Fall Materials Course



2 weekends ago I had a small group of students here in the studio for one of my materials courses- having never done a materials course with less than 15-20 students I was slightly concerned we wouldn’t get as much done as some of my previous courses- click here to be taken to a link on my marathon materials course in Sweden early this spring.

Instead, each of the students worked super hard and we ended up with more materials for each of them out of a 2-day course than I get out of a 3-day course.  We washed linseed oil, cooked rabbit skin glue numerous times and experimented with a variety of glue applications, stretched canvas, mounted linen to panel, cooked a gesso ground, made oil ground for our canvases and made a bunch of hand ground tubes of paint, exploring each pigment and oils’ natural rheological characteristics.  All in all, a successful weekend.

Additionally, having a smaller group allowed me to get some of my own materials done: I made 11 or 12 large linen oil-ground canvases, a few gesso panels, 3 linen canvases mounted to board, and my liter or so of freshly washed linseed oil.








Besides the experience and their notes, each of the students went home with:

• a tube of Titanium White, left long and stringy in a blend of Linseed and Walnut oil

•a tube of long Ultramarine Blue, in Linseed oil

•a tube of Yellow Ocher blended with Raw Siena, in Linseed oil

•four assorted size gessoed wood panels

•a 12×16″ stretched linen canvas with a half-chalk Lead oil ground, applied


*edit* here’s the basic reading list I gave the students.


Max Doerner’s Materials of the Artist.  Great book, this is the first one I really got into.  Very romantic, but not everything in it is useful- that said, it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Ralph Mayer’s Artist Handbook .  This book was the ‘bible’ of materials from the 50s-90s.  Some information now outdated, but excellent overall.

Mark Gottsegen’s The Painter’s Handbook . This is the most recent certainly overall most accurate of the books on materials.   Gottsegen passed away last year- I haven’t ever owned this book but have looked through it many times.

And one of my favorite materials books, because it’s more of a book-