In this blog we address the different surfaces of art and the advantages and disadvantages for both the artist and the collector.
Wood exists in many types, and all have a different absorbing effect and influence on the pigments of the paint and therefore the painting. The veins also influence the performance. In the past, most works were made on wood. The downside, of course, is that it's heavy and can be difficult to move; especially for larger works. Wood can start to work and can be affected by woodworm. This can be prevented by treating it, putting it behind glass or even framing it airtight.
Piet Dirkx: Composition of 8 cubes
Canvas (linen or cotton)
After the Middle Ages, when wooden panels were common as a substrate, cloths made of linen (or cotton) were used on a stretcher. The material had to be flexible and had to have the ability to elongate. After all, canvases can loosen and droop, which is inconvenient during the making of the art, but also afterwards because it influences the representation of the art and straight lines can appear crooked. The density of the cloth is important and so is the treatment. An artist wants an even surface and one that is not too absorbent for the paint. For this base layer, “Gesso” is applied; a mixture of lime and glue.
Many painters used to make their own canvases. Vincent van Goch even painted on tea towels in Arles. The Night Watch is painted on three strips of linen that are seamed together.
Watercolors, gouaches, pastel drawings and charcoal are made on paper. Just like etchings and lithographs. For Watercolors it is important that it is wood-free. Lightfast paper is important for all techniques, although colored paper is of course also an option. Depending on the type of medium, the background may or may not be transparent and can become part of the performance. The thickness of the paper also determines the final result. Lithographs and etchings can be printed on super-thin Japanese paper, while watercolors and gouaches are applied to 200-300 grams paper and are therefore actually made on cardboard. Due to the exposure to water with a strong dissolving power, correct bonding of the fiber is a prerequisite. This also prevents the fine pigments used in watercolors from penetrating too far into the paper and "bleeding". Most artists prefer a slightly rough surface for its more interesting texture and blending effects.
Since the white of the paper is often used in watercolors, it is important to use white lightfast paper. Because there is no real protective paint film, works on paper are more vulnerable to ultraviolet light than oil paintings: both the paper and the pigment are affected by the radiation, a reason to place the work behind glass.
MDF or wood is of course also suitable as a pannel for a painting. MDF is very smooth and therefore provides less depth but super bright colors. Especially for Acryl paint this gives the work of art a modern slick look.