On this blog, we’ve talked about all kinds of artistic approaches, but many of the pieces have focused on the materials used more than the canvas on which they are created. Projects like organic graffiti, which uses plants to create beautiful murals, or creating art projects from roadside debris, are all about what is used to make the art, not what the art is made on. But this can be different, too. The world is not limited to simply building walls, large pieces of canvas, or the printer page.
Artist Steve Casino has chosen a rather unique canvas on which to make his art, one that complements his funky and cartoonish art style. Rather than paint caricatures on regular pieces of paper like an artist on the street, he paints his pieces onto peanuts. That’s right, the humble and very common peanut shell.
Casino has invented a very specific process to ensure his creations are able to be preserved for years and even decades after he creates them. First, he removes the nuts from the shells. Next, he seals the shells back together using a special archival urethane mixture. He then paints the pieces, sealing the final work under a layer of clear acrylic. Finally, the finished piece or pieces are sealed inside a specialty glass dome for added protection.
Casino’s pieces are beautiful and painstakingly created, with as many as 20 hours dedicated to the painting alone. Unlike the novelty caricatures you often see around town, these are artistically beautiful and unique objects that can last for years to come.
The peanut is only the base of the work, however, and most of Casino’s pieces feature additional work that extends the object beyond the simple shape of the peanut shell. Hands, feet, legs, and more are added to the piece before painting, creating a unique and interesting piece that’s more than just, well, the shape and size of a peanut. The full extent of Casino’s capabilities can be seen on his website, and range from realistic to outright audacious.
What Casino’s work shows us is that art is not limited to just a few common kinds of canvas, but what the art is put on can vary as widely as the materials placed onto it. His pieces also challenge the idea of high and low art. While his artwork often fits into the style of caricature, the artistry, skill, and beauty he created from a peanut shell and some paint proves this is more than a novelty. In fact, it shows us that art of all styles deserves attention, and maybe even earns a place under a protected glass dome for people to enjoy for years to come.