This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Last week I wrote about your signature. There were many comments about the topic. Thanks to all of you who add your insights. This week’s post is in response to some of the points that were brought up in the comments.
Many of you suggested putting information on the back of your work. I agree and have done so myself my entire career. But “what” and “how” has changed some. I’ll share what I do and why, along with some thoughts about some of the things brought up in the comments from last week. You may or may not wish to include any of these on your work. That is fine. But this will give you something to think about.
What – I include the following on the back of all my artwork.
- My Name
- Copyright notice and year
- Varnish – I put what varnish (brand) I use and when it was applied. This (along with medium, ground, and support) is extremely helpful to any curator, restoration artist, conservator, etc. who may have anything to do with my work in the future.
- My website
- Notes – this is sometimes only a few words. Sometimes it is a paragraph. It might be an anecdote or story or the location of where it was painted. It would include any awards or significant shows that the work has been in.
How – The following are for stretched canvas. For canvas mounted on board, I simply write with marker on the back of the board.
- I put a piece of foam core on the back of the stretcher bars with the corners cut off at angles. The cut corners allow a small opening for circulation, while the board provides insulation and protection from accidental puncture or pressure.
- I use adhesive labels with the above information.
- I fill the labels in with ink.
Words of Caution
I used to write the title and my name directly on the back of the canvas itself. But I don’t anymore, for a few reasons.
Firstly, I have never written with permanent marker on the back. In a college art class, a technical expert from an art supply company came to give a lecture/demo. He explained that over time, the marker will bleed through to the front of the canvas and become visible. I don’t know if it is true or not. But I don’t want that to happen to my art, so I never risked it.
So, I used to use pencil instead. A few years ago, I met a conservator/restorer who said that even writing with pencil can damage the canvas. Apparently the pressure applied to the canvas will leave a slight impression which will affect how it expands and contracts over the years. The areas with the impression will expand and contract differently than the surrounding areas. Thus, after several years you will see the impression become more pronounced. This is more evident with a tightly woven canvas. So I no longer write directly on the canvas itself. Again, I don’t know if it is true, but I don’t want to risk it.
PS While it is true that someone could simply remove the foam board backing from my stretched canvas, I think that risk is not that great. I put all my info on the foam board. I include a label that explains the purpose of the foam core and that it shouldn’t be removed except for occasional cleaning.