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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • What is the best way to record my name and materials used on the back of the canvasApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-01-06 13:31:16 ... Most recent comment 2017-01-06 13:32:00
    Matting, Framing, and Glazing Other
    Hello! I would like to know what is the best way to record what materials I used (pigments mediums and varnishes on the back of the canvas) I was thinking about going to a printshop and getting this info printed on canvas and gluing this small patch to the back of the artwork, but i am afraid this might disfigure the artwork down the line, same with using permanent markers. I will appreciate your input and help! Thanks!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerI am pasting an answer on this subject that I wrote to a very similar query a few months ago. I hope it is of help. First, please do not glue anything to the reverse of the canvas for the reasons mentioned below. I think that it is good to apply writing to the stretcher bars but I realize that sometimes these may become separated from the painting in the future. There are four main considerations when deciding to write on the back of a canvas. First, make sure that the media does not require you to press hard when writing on the reverse, especially on grounds/paint that may have become brittle overtime. I have seen paintings where the writing on the back has physically telegraphed through to the painted surface as a very fine raised crack which could be read when looking at the face of the painting in raking light. Second, the writing should be thin in consistency and not drastically change the texture and topography of the bare canvas. Anything substantive applied to the back of a canvas like thicker paint, labels, and patches usually come forward do to the alignment of physical forces and will cause the front of the canvas to protrude in a noticeably manner. There are innumerable examples of paintings where restoration patches and even paper gallery labels have been applied to the reverse and overtime the exact shape of the patch/label has telegraphed through to the surface. Third, the media used should not harm or drastically stain the fabric. This would really rule out dilute oil paint which would cause the drying oil to bleed into the surrounding canvas. Finally, you would want the writing media to be coherent and adherent enough so that it does not simply fall away over time like charcoal or possible fade due to the use of fugitive dyes, like some markers. So given all of the above. I would suggest using diluted India ink of something like a carbon black pigmented technical pen (or pen/brush) or the disposable alternatives available today and be gentle when writing on the back. It would probably help to have the painting face down on a soft sheet of blotter when you do this to avoid pressing too hard. Dilute acrylic dispersion paint applied in a rather dry manner (trying to not get the back too wet) should work fine as well. Darker, and slightly softer, graphite pencils gingerly applied are a fine alternative as well. There are probably other options but those are what come to mind. Finally, some have suggested using charcoal on the back and using a fixative to make it permanent. We do not generally suggest this practice as the resin in the fixative his will create regions that respond differently to changes in relative humidity. Probably, a very light application may not cause problems but the fixitive's efficacy in holding the charcoal would be proportional to the degree that it changes the back surface of the canvas and, therefore, the degree to which it may eventually cause planar deformations.
    Baade, Brian
    2017-01-06 13:48:07
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentAs I use acrylics and there could be future need for repair or cleaning, I felt this issue to be worthy of resolution. Conservators may not be able to determine what you did or what was used, either for the surface preparation or the actual painting. My answer was a computer generated sheet specific to the painting, detailing the substrate, products used for substrate preparation, colour palette (including brand and pigment ID), plus the isolation coat and varnish applied after the fact. Also included is my ID number for that particular piece, date of completion, name, and email address. This sheet is folded to fit inside a shipping label protector sleeve and affixed to the acid free backing/sealing sheet on the rear surface of the stretcher frame. As such it is permanently attached to the work but does not directly contact any part of the substrate. With rigid substrates such as wood, composite, aluminum, etc. the sleeve and contents could be applied directly to the rear surface of the substrate as there is no risk of damage to the artwork on the opposite surface. These sleeves have an adhesive strip on the rear surface, but you can ignore that and apply acid free double sided tape if you prefer. I am not a professional or known artist, but feel that if somebody buys a painting from me, they still should have the right to know what materials were used and that I cared enough to provide that information up front.
    2017-01-13 11:47:56
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentSorry, that was my first post and I anticipated having to provide ID as part of the posting process. Charles Eisener
    2017-01-13 12:15:54

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