Sunday, March 13, 2022

Michael Skalka knows about art materials!

I first "met" (as in online) Michael Skalka many years ago when I was looking into the lightfastness of art materials. At the time, Michael was 

We started to correspond about lightfastness and have continued off and on over the years. 

Since he retired he's started a retirement project and is posting about fine art materials on his new website/blog Syntax of Color. This site provides a HUGE amount of expert and reliable information about fine art materials and their constituents (past and present) - which is very accessible.  I did a massive online colour project back in 2008 and learned an enormous amount about colour and pigment/materials performance (and have continued to remain interested in the topic ever since) - but Michael continues to publish consistent good quality information on a regular basis which I've not come across before which is both very interesting and informative. Plus he writes well!

I highly recommend Syntax of Color to all those interested in using colour in their art and looking to develop their knowledge of the fine art materials they use.

FIND OUT more about what it covers below - it also covers a number of related fine art materials for painters.

What does Syntax of Colour cover?

The Syntax of Color website provides the following - with examples:
While not having done a survey, I would safely say that no conservator would advocate the use of epoxy resin as a surface coating for a work of fine art.
A host of skin problems can be encountered by short and long-term exposure to turpentine. Casual, short-term contact can result in irritation and redness. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that is red, swollen, and itches.
in hindsight, we can see that Maroger was just another snake-oil salesman desperate to come up with a formulation to simulate a painting technique that we now know by scientific investigation, never relied on any secret medium created in the past.
Since the priming layer serves as a foundation for a work of art it deserves to have a critical role in the successful completion of a sound, integrated artwork.
While a few traditionalists still employ animal glue as the first coating for a canvas, that material has proven to cause accelerated embrittlement and the glue reacts to humidity by swelling and shrinking. Given enough expansion and contraction cycles, the ever-stiffening paint layer applied on top of the ground layers will react to the tension imposed on the paint by cracking. The energy has nowhere to go so the paint breaks to relieve the stress.
Enjoy this site. All of the reviews seek to find positive aspects for all art materials offered on the market. If you are looking for critical testing and harsh critiques of art materials, you won't find it here. If a product is truly flawed or not intended for the serious fine artist, I won't waste my time writing about it.
Art materials manufacturers live by their reputations. Releasing untested, cheapened or adulterated products have a tendency of being discovered by artists. Artists also communicate with each other in person, on message boards and in art materials/techniques forums. An old saying goes, you can spend 100 year building a reputation and ruin it in 1 day.
  • an overview about what American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM International) does in relation to Artists Materials - and some of the details:
  • So, a question is posed by an artist: “What is wrong with the ASTM light fastness test?” The answer is nothing is wrong with the test. The reason for fading is due to the manufacturer using a pigment that is sensitive to light and fades. Nothing complex to understand here. If a manufacturer does not have a quality control step in their company process for assessing raw materials and does not test batches of colorants, especially if their supplier is new or has indicated a change in formulation or additives, then the fault is with them, not ASTM.
  • Art Materials Advertising


If you're interested in fine art colours, paints and associated materials, you can find Michael Skalka's Syntax of Color on the following sites


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