Paint

The paint used by artists to project their ideas and observations can be as simple as a mixture of pigment and binder, with pigment providing the color and the binder joining the particles of pigment together and to the support. A paint may also contain a vehicle that dilutes the pigment/binder mixture, allowing the paint to be spread more easily. Other materials may be added to the mixture to enhance the optical or textural characteristics, or to alter the working properties, by accelerating or slowing the drying of the film or by making it more or less fluid.

The choice of materials for these various functions is dependent upon the type of support the painter intends to use, the scale of the painting, its proposed environment, and the tactile and optical characteristics suitable to the artist's vision. Although many artists have experimented extensively in the hope of developing new techniques (Figure 2.1) or adapting new materials to suit their pictorial needs, most have followed common practice or historically established procedures. Innovations generally derive from these historical precedents, and the adoption of new materials such as acrylic polymers, vinyl, and alkyd resins, in their most common formulations, mimic to some extent conventional paints. These synthetic media do offer the painter an expanded range of textures, consistencies, and optical effects through the use of a number of additives.

In centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution and the development of manufactured paints, a painter was not only an artist, but 12 also a "formulator of paints." Painters personally, or with the help of assistants, made their own paints, mixing pigments with selected binding media (the material that holds the pigment together and bonds the paint to a support). Hands-on experience with paint preparation gave an artist a great understanding of artist's materials and their properties. Artists often followed a variety of traditional paint recipes. Differences in paint formulas proliferated as painters experimented with a multiplicity of binding media, seeking that special combination that would give their paints the desired optical and handling properties.

After the introduction of collapsible paint tubes in 1841 and the development of the paint industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, artists became separated from the paint manufacturing process, and most of them lost the motivation to learn the details of the paint-making trade. Artists became freer in the creative process, and the collapsible paint tubes allowed them to leave their studios and helped them to develop new styles of painting. We can say that without these technological advances in artist's materials there would not have been such art movements as Impressionism, which brought the painter out into the open air. The technological advances and diminishing knowledge of artist's materials by painters had, on the other hand, some serious negative effects. Using inadequate materials, working with poorly tested paints, and experimenting with paint formulas without an intimate knowledge of possible consequences sometimes had disastrous effects on the longevity of paintings.

Paint media, no matter how different they are from one another, share a common characteristic in that they are manufactured in essentially the same way. The pigment must be dispersed, or ground, as evenly as possible in the binding medium to take full advantage of the properties of both the pigment and the binder. The grinding process does not alter the morphology of the individual particles of pigment, but simply distributes them evenly within the binder (Figure 2.2a,b). Traditionally,

Grinding Pigment
Fig. 2.1. Photo of Jackson Pollock, Hans Namuth. Many of Jackson Pollock's paintings consist of layers of paint marks produced by dripping very liquid paints onto canvas. In order to make this kind of image, Pollock adopted the unconventional application technique shown here.
Ground Pigments
Fig. 2.2a,b. (a) Pigments (irregularly shaped particles) are combined with a binding medium into a stiff paste, which is then (b) ground on a flat plate to distribute the pigment particles uniformly within the binder.
Johannes Stradamus

Fig. 2.3. A Dutch Studio in the Sixteenth Century, engraving, Theodor Galle after Johannes Stradamus, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

In the studio of a successful sixteenth-century painter, apprentices are busy assisting the master in a number of ways including the grinding, or preparation, of paint, shown on the far right.

Fig. 2.3. A Dutch Studio in the Sixteenth Century, engraving, Theodor Galle after Johannes Stradamus, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

In the studio of a successful sixteenth-century painter, apprentices are busy assisting the master in a number of ways including the grinding, or preparation, of paint, shown on the far right.

the pigment and binder are first mixed into a stiff paste. This is then ground on a flat plate of glass or stone with a muller, a flat-bottomed glass or stone instrument held in the hands and pushed in a circular motion, demonstrated by the apprentices in the studio of a sixteenth-century painter in Figure 2.3. Although some painters today still grind their paint by hand, most purchase their paint preground by machines used by manufacturers to produce large quantities of paint (Figure 2.4) of uniform consistency and pigment distribution.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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