Artist Uses Hemp As His Canvas

Artist Uses Hemp As His Canvas

Hemp has multi-faceted uses, including the perfect canvas for Hemp Art.

California artist Mohan Sundaresan paints and weaves his paintings together using a technique that has never been seen in the art world. He does not do it for the money. In fact, last December, right before the holidays, he was facing financial issues and was on the verge of becoming homeless.


Mohan had accumulated close to 200 paintings, sculptures, and etchings on wood, paper, aluminum, and canvas over the years. Not knowing where he was going to live next, he gave them all away.


Mohan was 72 years old and had been doing odd jobs and maintenance work for a property management company. His bills were piling up and he was behind on his rent. He slept in a cold garage behind the house during the Christmas and New Years holidays.

…Life can change in a Moment
In January of 2018, Mohan’s life changed. He received a long-awaited pension, paid off his debts and moved back into the house. He now had a monthly income to pay his rent and feed his dog Dizzy, his number one priority.

With his financial pressure off, Mohan decided that he was no longer going to paint for the sake of painting. He wanted a purpose. He called me up in early January and asked if I could get him some commission work.

I have known Mohan since 2011 and felt that his creative potential was unlimited. He uses cannabis daily not only to help ease his chronic back pain but also to open his mind. So Isuggested that he do a marijuana leaf painting and sent him a deposit for art supplies. Since early this year Mohan has completed close to 20 abstract cannabis leaf paintings.

One of my favorite books is Hemp: Lifeline to the Future by Chris Conrad.It was introduced to me by a friend back in the 90’s and I keep a copy on my desk. On page 10 it states that hemp was used in the riggings and sails for Columbus’s ships. That gave me an idea. Why not hemp canvas for art? I found a source for hemp art canvas and ordered 6 yards of it for Mohan. See Mohans Hemp Art Here!

The rest is history. Hemp canvas is what he is painting on now. He loves the texture of the fabric and how it holds the paint. More importantly, he sends a message through his artwork of another use of the hemp plant.

Artist Statement

The artworks are created in my studio in La Jolla, using a technique that I developed over the years. Several processes are involved in each piece. I begin a project by putting colors on two canvasses of equal size. The colors are determined by what impressions are in my mind at the time.

Sunsets, flowers, the ocean, stars, and nature, in general, give me inspiration. The state of the world affects what thoughts are in my brain when I am painting. When they are dry, I turn each canvas face down and cut it into random curves and shapes. I add a sphere to the mix, which represents a gem.

Finally, I weave the two canvasses together around the sphere, cutting slits in strategic places so they lie flat. Each weave is carefully glued in place. The weaving is the part that I enjoy most. The message is the same in every piece. “We are all born with a gem inside us that needs to be polished. No one is better than another.”

Painting began as a hobby, then became a habit and a passion, and is today an obsession. “I can’t go a day without painting, it is such a release. I used to travel all over the world, but now I travel when I paint.”

Artist Envoy, manager of Mohan.