How important is it for art materials to be archival? I’m really drawn to using natural and upcycled materials in my art, but they might not last as long as traditional oil and acrylic paints.
Is this a consideration for you when you purchase art? Do you expect your art to be in like-new condition 100 years from now? 200 years from now?
I was walking around my yard this week, looking at some of the beautiful plants I use for leaf prints and natural dyes. I was thinking of incorporating them into some new work, but I always hesitate because colors from plants are likely to fade over time.
That got me thinking — does it really matter? If I have a burning desire to work with these plants, should I let the potential for fading stop me? And if I sell this work, should it come with a warning that it could fade?
Here are some of the dye plants in my yard and the leaf prints made using them. The plants are really pretty right now, and most are California natives.
Catalina Fernleaf Ironwood Tree — two different varieties are native to Catalina and Santa Cruz Islands, and the fern-like leaves give brilliant rust prints.
California False Indigo — a deciduous plant that gives a golden green color.
Loquat — I’m a big fan of the fruit, and the huge leaves give interesting rust-colored prints.
Coffeeberry — a California native with fruit that looks like coffee berries, and leaves that give a rich golden coffee color.
Grape — this plant was a volunteer in my yard, probably sown by a bird that had ingested a seed. Sadly the grapes are sour, but the leaves are wonderful.
My heart sings when I see these plants and the beautiful colors and prints that they give. I want to use them in my art, but I’m wondering how.
What do you think about the practice of only using archival materials for art? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.
With love and appreciation,