Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Downside to Painting on Paper

I've been debating the wisdom of painting on paper for some time. Though storage is easy, matting and framing are costly. Last weekend I was talking with a more established artist, and he gave me some insights into some other shortcomings of paper and how I've been presenting works on paper.

One of the key points he made was that people respond very differently to a painting under glass. It's certainly true that you lose your sense of the surface when a painting is under glass. I have seen some shows, for instance the Hopper show at the National Gallery of Art, where a few paintings on canvas were under glass-- and I always was distracted by the glass and wondering why it was there. The point my friend made was that, under glass, a painting often loses much of what distinguishes an original from a glicee print, undermining its value.

A second point he made is that mats may not be working well for me. I came from a printmaking background where the deckled edges of the paper were prized, and floating your work unmatted in the frame was the standard operating procedure. Recently I had resorted to matting to avoid tearing down my paintings to get a clean edge. He was strongly recommending floating over matting, because it is a more polished style. Or, better yet, switch to panels and get rid of the glass.

So much of selling art is creating the perception of value, and I can certainly see how not obscuring work behind glass and mat board might be a cleaner, preferred look. I'd been starting to move towards panels, and this conversation certainly encourages me to follow through.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, too, am starting to paint my watercolors onto canvas and then spray them to protect the 'water'. The perceived value is evident. Some of my prints look as good or better than the original and people would rather pay the lower price for the print with the same visual effect.
Trudy Robertson, TruDysigns.com

FleasGang said...

Our personal preference, for what it's worth, is matted and framed with or without glass. As far as perceived value (hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings here) is that the more expensive looking the frame, the more expensive the artwork.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Sell your art and let the purchaser frame it! However, it does indeed sell for more, and has a greater value, if it is matted and framed. Plus, you usually get to choose size, color, style to enhance your art. Always get the "UV" glass for added value, and be sure to sell the work and recover all your costs, including labor. Thee Art Gallery at weddellart.com by Monty Ousley Weddell (214-330-1635)

Jackson said...

All quiet on the Nat front. J x

redchair said...

Hi Nat,
I'm a California artist. I understand the problem. I've been painting on canvas panels especially for online sales. You can role and stick them in a mailing tube. In the event you do show them, you can put them on stretcher bars or just frame them flat. (The panels cut my cost-thus what I can charge for them).
Anyway come visit my blog, also.
Vikki

Balhatain said...

I really enjoy this post. Glad that I stumbled upon your blog. Most collectors end up throwing the original frame away so that they can buy their own frame. So don't spend that much on frames.

Warm regards,

Brian Sherwin-- Myartspace Blog