The Materials of the Artist

by Max Doerner, Harcourt Brace & Co.

22 X 14 cm. 435 pages

I’ve spent more time studying this book than any other painting reference. Max held some very definite opinions and he wasn’t shy about sharing. He taught a materials class at the Academy of Fine Arts at Munich. He doesn’t just describe materials, he suggests how they are used and why. There is useful information on egg tempera and other emulsion paints. Many of his stories are cautionary, i.e. this stuff turns yellow, that stuff turns black, do this and your paint will fall off. One of the most enlightening sections is devoted to painting conservation. I was surprised at how poorly canvas proforms over the long term. Most paintings over 150 years old have to have a new layer of canvas glued to the back. Sometimes the original canvas is removed, thread by thread, and the paint film transferred to new canvas.