Is A Painting Only Skin Deep?

a. the exterior or upper boundary of an object or body.
b. an external part or layer.  

Clearly the idea of surface comes up many times in my life. In art we talk in great depth about the surface of a painting or sculpture. Is it rough or smooth? Is it hard or soft? The paradoxical nature of a surface is that there has to be depth of some sort or the surface would not exist. 

Anytime I imagine the word surface, I am immediately think of those fantastic illustrations in grade school text books that show a slice of the earth and all of its layers. Remember those? I was enthralled with those illustrations and the concept of layers on top of each other.

I see a painting as not just skin deep. It is the sum of all of its parts: from the nails, glue, and wood of the stretcher bars, to the canvas and staples, to the primer on top of the canvas and finally to the multitude of layers of paint that make up what we actually see. This is one of many reasons why I build may painting substrates. I find the canvas construction process as part of the painting as a whole. Like a house, there wouldn’t be that beautiful front door if the foundation was poorly construction and collapsed. 

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