Studio Secrets


Studio Secrets
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FOREWORD: Were there paints used by the old masters better than ours today And were their methods superior Is turpentine a good painting medium Why do some paintings darken, discolor, or crack with age, while others do not What varnish should I use to restore the brilliancy of a painting which has grown dull Which is better, a sable or a bristle brush These are typical of hundreds of questions which painters and stu dents all over the land are constantly asking. Particularly since I started my Question and Answer Department in the Taubes Page, in the magazine AMERICAN ARTIST, have come to realize what a strong interest exists today in all such technical matters. This was not always so. In fact, this present keen attention to sound craftsmanship in painting is most gratifying to those of us who have long worked toward this very goal. For far too lengthy a period we might even say for scores of years many painters were so immersed in the purely aesthetic aspects of their art that they neglected those equally important technical phases which must always be observed if results are to be enduring. A gradual awakening has taken place only as one horrible example after another of fading, darkening, discoloration, cracking, or like type of failure has come to the fore. Even in the recent past there have been those who have treated craftsmanship so lightly that their paintings have already badly dete riorated or are doomed to an early demise. Small wonder, then, that more and more contemporary painters, profiting from all this, are turn ing to the investigation of the chemical and physical nature and action of pigments the respective functions of oils, varnishes and other me dia the preparation of grounds the possibilities of underpainting, etc.My personal feeling has always been that if a painting is worth do ing at all, it is worth doing well And by well I mean not only aes thetically well, but technically well. At the very outset of my career I was so impressed by the needless deterioration of thousands of paintings that the mastery of craftsmanship became a consuming passion. By good fortune, I was able to indulge this passion by studying at first hand the works of those leading exponents of sound craftsmanship, the old masters. In Paris, in Italy, in Vienna, in the Bauhaus in Weimar, under the famous Doerner in Munich, for years I was able to gratify my inquisitiveness along technical lines. One by one I inspected the great masterpieces of old. I compared I analysed I investigated I asked questions I read assiduously everything I could lay my hands on. And gradually I arrived at a conviction which decades of subsequent paint ing and teaching have served only to strengthen, that a regeneration of art will be possible only when painters cease to look on technical matters as superficial and return to the sound basic principles long ago established by the old masters.

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