The subject matter explored in John's printmaking relies heavily on his work in other media, specifically painting and drawing, and many of his prints have been described as translations of these unique works. The imagery in Painting with Two Balls is based on the painting with the same title from 1960 in which Johns suspended two balls within a slit in the canvas. Here, Johns translates the three-dimensionality of the painting to the flat surface of the lithographic stone by using traditional chiaroscuro shading and his own nimbleness with the lithographic tusche. Painting With Two Balls is also, not coincidentally, Johns' first lithograph printed with more than one stone.
Johns resigned this print for Mr. Whitney in 1996.