Let’s picture this…

You’re an artist, working hard, making beautiful and outstandig pieces of visual art. You’ve sold quite a few artworks, and your name has begun to be associated with your paintings.

Then… Bom! Your paintings are falling apart. Discolouring. Crackels. Bubbles. Yellowing.

Your old customers stop coming back. The earlier, steady growing stream of new customers is diminishing.

Devastating! You know this scenario is no good for your art business.


Surface matters - LearnArtBusiness.com

Surface matters – LearnArtBusiness.com

To avoid such a bad turn on your art career, it’s important to use materials of good quality in your paintings. Materials that are made to last for decades.

Nobody likes to buy a painting that lasts only a few years. So, if intending to sell your piece of art, always use paint and painting surfaces of good quality.

Quality surfaces

A surface of good quality should keep it’s structure and look for many, many years. And it should keep the colours vibrant and fresh, without letting the volours neither fading or falling off.

Surfaces for watercolours

When working with watercolor, you should use paper of archival standards or archival grade, the best being made of 100% cotton.

Paper that is labeled “Acid free” is often of archival standards, but not always.

If the paper is pure cotton, you’re safe. The paper is truly of archieval standard, and will not discolour over years.

If the paper is based on cellulose fiber, it contains a buffer to make it acid free or pH-neutral. When the buffer is used up, the result is yellowing paper and fading colors.

Buffered cellulose paper is cheaper and is a good option for student work or practicing, but shouldn’t be used for art intended for sale.

Surfaces for acrylics

If working with acrylic paint, you should look for hardboard panels or streched canvas.

Acrylic paper is mostly for practicing and sketching, but may be framed under glass to last longer.

However, if you want your acrylic artwork to last for generations, use hardboard panels or streched canvas.

You can also use a Mixed Media Board or Paper of archival standard, made of 100% cotton.

Useful use of student grade surface (other than practising)

The exception to the rule of always using paper of archival quality is if the intension of your painting is to make a starting point for a giclée print or other products going through a digital process, and not to be sold itself. Then you can safely use student grade paper.

However, the final product intended for sale should always be on paper of archival standards.

So, to sum up:

In the big jungle of painting surfaces, I hope this article helped a little! Many exiting painting surfaces are not mentioned here, but I hope to get back later to cover more.

In the meanwhile… 

I’d love to hear your opinion! Leave your comment with your favourite painting surface, (or worst), your opinion on the subject, or any other comment you may have.

And be sure to check back for the next blog post coming up; Quality Paint.

Cheat Sheet to Non-Fading Art

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