Recommended Reading (Booklist)

Artists’ Pigments (A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics) Robert L. Feller, Editor. National Gallery of Art, Washington.

For the practicing artist to learn a pigment’s colour, hiding power, lightfastness, toxicity, compatibility.

For the art historian to know how an artist worked, what pigments were used, whether they were pure or mixed, opaque of transparent, layered or not. For the conservator to devise techniques necessary for care and conservation of works of art; to determine what is original, to repair damages, to compensate for missing portions of a painted surface.

For the curator / connoisseur to know the history of the manufacture, use, and availability of pigments in order to authenticate and assign probable dates to works of art.

For the conversation scientist to learn identification methods used, including optical microscopy, microchemical tests, x-ray diffraction, infrared and reflectance spectrohotometry, and electron micrscopy. 300 pages.

Available at selected stockist: £25.00


Painting Materials (a short encyclopedia) Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout.

The combined training and experience of the authors of this classic in the varied activities of painting conservation, cultural research, chemistry, physics, and paint technology ideally suited them to the task they attempted. Their book written when they were both affiliated with the Department of Conversation at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, is not a handbook of instruction. It is, instead, an encyclopedic collection of specialized data on every aspect of painting and painting research. 333 pages

Available in selected stockist: £7.95


The Materials of the Artist and their use in Painting, Max Doerner

This classic book on the craft of painting is the accepted authority on questions of materials and techniques. Max Doerner, drawing on over twenty-five years of teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, examines everything that the practicing artist might need to know about the preparation of painting surfaces, the creation of pigments, and the tools and methods used when applying oils, tempera, pastels, water colors, and in creating murals. The author also provides a thoughtful analysis of the techniques of the old masters so that the modern artist might gain new insight from the experience of those who have gone before. The final chapter provides a valuable look at conversation and restoration techniques and explains how they can be used to greatest effect. 435 pages.

Available at selected stockist: £9.95


Formulas for Painters, Robert Massey.

200 formulas for making paints, glazes, mediums, varnishes, grounds, fixatives, sizes, & adhesives for tempera, oil acrylics, gouache, pastel, encaustic, fresco, & other painting techniques.

These recipes – some dating as far back as the Renaissance – have been tested by artists through the ages and retested by the author under controlled laboratory conditions. 223 pages.

It is available in most stockist: £12.95


The Artist’s Assistant (Oil Painting Instruction Manuals and Handbooks in Britain 1800-1900 With Reference to Selected Eighteenth-century Sources). Leslie Carlyle

The Artist’s Assistant is the first comprehensive and critical analysis of information on nineteenth-century artists materials. It is an invaluable resource not only for conservators and historians of art technology but also for artists, researchers and teachers who wish to work with authentic materials. 589 pages

Available at The National Gallery (London) bookstore: £85.00


The Artist’s Handbook of Material’s & Techniques Ralph Mayer. (The Artist’s Bible – Fifth edition).

This Artist’s Handbook has become an indispensable reference work for thousands of practicing artist all over the world. It gives information on the properties and uses for artists’ materials: pigments, oil painting, acrylics, tempera painting, grounds for oil and tempera paintings, watercolor and gouache, pastel, encaustic painting, mural painting, solvents and thinners, gums, casein, glues, waxes, chemistry, conservation of pictures…761 pages. Essential reading for all artists!