For me, art starts on masonite boards. What’s masonite? Why don’t I use stretched canvas? I learned to paint on canvas. Throughout my experiences as an artist, nothing had greater possibility than a freshly gesso’d canvas… until three years ago.
If you’ve reviewed my work (and you should) you may notice that I have a very heavy hand with my brush. A peer of mine suggested that masonite might be better up to the challenge of supporting my technique. Masonite, also called hardboard or fiberboard, was invented in 1924 in Mississippi by William Mason, who decided that blasting wood chips into a fibrous pulp and pressing it into panels was an inexpensive way to create siding, doors and canoes.
I gave it a whirl, but it felt all wrong! The spring and give of the canvas was gone. I couldn’t grip the frame. I went back to canvas almost instantly, but with it came the familiar problems: warping and sagging that lead to tears and dings during shipping, mold and salt from the Charleston air. These problems don’t exist with masonite. And as much as I hated to admit it, it was easier for me (and my clients) to find inexpensive frames to fit more standardized sizes than my custom canvases. It only seemed fair to you guys to create a more durable product that was also easier on the wallet.
It’s been a bit of a transition, but I think I’ve made a smooth move to a smoother canvas. Fellow artists, art buyers, what painting surface do you prefer?