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A lot of
useful information in this book if you are interested in the technical aspects
of painting but the author is certainly no teacher. When I tried to find out
how to prepare a plywood panel for archival oil painting I nearly lost the will
to live and in the end decided to revert to stretcher bars and canvas. No doubt
the information is all in there, but the author seems incapable of describing
anything in simple terms or structures his explanations properly. His other
book The Painter’s craft is more useful in practical terms.
I was reluctant to buy this because it doesn't seem to be available on kindle
and it seemed a little pricey. But a course that I was doing listed it as
required reading. So I bought it. It is a hefty volume and having read nearly
200 pages so far, I can see why it would be required reading for artists. It is
full of comprehensive and essential information that I wouldn't expect to find
elsewhere. It has been referred to as 'The Bible for artists'. I think rightly
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I think Brian's assessment of Mayer's book is accurate, however I can't agree with Gotsegen's.Compared to Mayer's book, Gotsegen's is very light on material. I borrowed it from a library and read through it very quickly. Far too quickly.It was too long ago to remember details, but I remember thinking there were unquantified opinions, some contradictions and some important ommissions.(The problems with zinc being one of them.)However, even though I found it simple, it is a sound book and I can recommend it.I would love a revised and corrected version of Mayer's book.I have the 5th edition, the latest, which was revised after Mayer's death, but even so, there is a considerable amount of very questionable information in it.If I were to only have one book, it would be Mayer's, but in conjunction with the latest information from sources such as MITRA, "Painting Best Practices" facebook group and "Traditional Oil Painting" facebook group.Ron Francis.
My apologies for misspelling 'Gottsegen'.
I do think that the Gottsegen book is a far more useful manual, but do understand what you mean. The book is rather "simple" and direct. That is one of the reasons that it functions far better as a general painting manual. However, the first edition contained some info that I missed in the revised edition (for instance how to transform a tube of lead white oil paint into a proper lean lead white oil ground).
The very comprehensiveness of Mayer's The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques is also one of its downfalls. Her wrote on everything is an extremely authoritative manner. Some was based on science and testing and other parts on his obvious biases. The truth is that the more you have very strong opinions on, without conclusive evidence, the more you are going to be proved wrong.
In some ways, especially as a recipe book, I actually prefer The Materials and Techniques of Painting by Kurt Welte to these volumes. It is also outdated, also very opinionated, and based on the author's general tone, I do not think that I would have cared for him as a teacher, but I find it the most useful of the three as a book of recipes and techniques.
As to the omission of the problems of zinc white and other contemporary issues, none of this was known when these three authors wrote, so it is unfair to criticize their omissions.
Oh, I thought Mark was well aware of the problems with zinc.That would expain the ommision.Is my memory faulty, or was there much talk about zinc causing paint to become brittle at AMIEN before he died?Personally, I like the encylopedic nature of the Mayer book and find the index fairly easy to negotiate. I totally agree with what you said about trong opinions. I found them in both books, but I think it may be more difficult to discern opinion from fact in the Mayer book.Thanks Brian.Ron Francis.
People knew about the relative brittleness of zinc white oil paints for
quite a while. Most beleived that this small degree of brittleness was offset
by zinc white's more reactive nature in oil allowing for a much stronger paint film
than titanium alone. This is also why many in the industry added a small amount
of zinc white even to tubes solely labeled titanium white. It was the staple for tints. It is really very recent
that we have begun to understand the massive issues caused by zinc carboxylate
(soaps) formation and the speed at which these move through a paint film. Even
today, only the most forward thinking manufacturers have begun to reformulate
their paints based on this research.
All of these painting handbooks were written before the depth
of the zinc soap problem was understood. Of course, Mark's book was the most
recent and likely the subject would have been included in subsequent editions
if he had not passed away so young.
I'm not sure why but I presumed Mark's book (revised and expanded) was released after the Mecklenburg paper, but if my research is correct, it was published 6 years prior.Cheers.Ron Francis.