Art Business: Artists Ask, Experts Answer

“Contemporary artists know less about art materials than any other group of artists in history,” declares Mark Gottsegen, the author of The Painter’s Handbook (Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, New York) and a longtime studio-art faculty member at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

by Daniel Grant

 

Art-Material Information Sources

Art Materials Information and
Education Network (AMIEN)

Intermuseum Conservation Association
2915 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 658-8700

National Art Materials Trade
Association (NAMTA)

15806 Brookway Drive, Ste. 300
Huntersville, NC 28078
(704) 892-6244

ASTM International (American
Society for Testing and Materials)

100 Barr Harbor Drive
P.O. Box C700
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959
(610) 832-9585

The Art & Creative Materials Institute
P.O. Box 479
Hanson, MA 02341-0479
(781) 293-4100

Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012-2586
(212) 777-0062

Like AMIEN, American Artist’s
website
offers resources for artists
to receive valuable information from
experts and from their peers. Artists
can submit questions regarding the
recommended use of art supplies,
how to solve technical problems, and
the properties of new art materials
through the Ask the Experts
section. Artists can also join Artists’
Forum
, where they can chat with
colleagues, exchange ideas and tips,
or ask for help.

Art Business: Artists Ask, Experts Answer

Art Business: Artists Ask,
Experts Answer

“Contemporary artists know less about art materials than any other group of artists in history,” declares Mark Gottsegen, the author of The Painter’s Handbook (Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, New York) and a longtime studio-art faculty member at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “Almost their entire training consists of theory and critique, with very little focus on the properties of the materials they use.” Albert Albano, the executive director of the Cleveland-based Intermuseum Conservation Association, noticed this lack of education as well during his regular consultations with artists. To provide answers to the many questions artists have about their materials that could affect the longevity of their art business, and desiring to open the channels of communication among artists, conservators, and art-materials manufacturers, Gottsegen and Albano teamed up with Golden Artist Colors to found the Art Materials Information and Education Network (AMIEN), which will be based in the offices of the Intermuseum Conservation Association, in Cleveland, and accessible to artists nationwide by phone and website (see below).

Although art-supply manufacturers usually have people on staff whose principal responsibility is to answer questions about their products—with some suppliers reporting as many as 10,000 inquiries per year—their point of view is unfortunately that of the particular manufacturer. The websites for a number of art-materials manufacturers attempt to answer some questions and concerns, but they have a scattershot chance of being helpful. “I’m not endorsing any product, and I won’t recommend products by brand names unless they’re unique,” Gottsegen says of the AMIEN, adding that “there may be more than one answer to a question.”

The information that AMIEN provides will be based on three sources: Gottsegen’s own testing of materials, published findings of other researchers, and results from a private laboratory that will be periodically contracted to perform tests on art supplies. The website also has a forum page that will allow artists to share information with one another. “There will be no charge for using AMIEN,” says Gottsegen. “Artists can simply register on the website and get unlimited access to research and available information.” Additionally, AMIEN plans to offer online courses, workshops, art-teacher training, and a dispute-resolution service for artists dissatisfied with a manufacturer’s product, as well as lab testing of specific art materials for manufacturers. Gottsegen notes that there will be nominal fees for these services to cover costs.

The Art Materials Information and Education Network covers a wide range of media, including painting, photography, printmaking, digital imagery, and sculpture, “and if I don’t know the answers immediately, I know how to get them,” says Gottsegen. A benefit of being housed at the Intermuseum Conservation Association, the nation’s oldest regional conservation center, currently serving 44 Midwestern museums, is that “we have a whole range of materials experts on staff,” says Albano.

The immediate goal of AMIEN is to offer information that artists don’t usually receive in their training or learn by trial and error. However, Albano notes that the long-term goal is to “influence the art curriculum at both the undergraduate level and in the graduate programs that conservators take.” Artists, he hopes, will once again be taught about the materials they use, and conservators will hopefully develop “a more flexible approach to artistic experimentation,” he says. “Conservators tend to be the bad-news people, telling artists, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that,’ but the use of new materials has led to artistic innovation. Think of Picasso sticking bits of newspaper onto his canvases in his late Cubist phase, which had a transformative effect on the history of 20th-century art. We want conservators to listen more to artists, to ask ‘What are you trying to do?’ and then provide information that can help artists get what they’re after.”   

 

 


 

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Karyn

About Karyn

   My heart has always been in art and I spend the free time that I can painting.  Currently, I work in acrylics and I'm creating a series of abstract pieces.  But, I'm a materials collector and I've recently purchased some pan pastels, some new oil paints and watercolor pencils.

I no longer work for Artist Daily, so I won't be checking the site regularly and have no ability to remove posts or images.  Please contact the staff of Artist Daily or American Artist if you need help.


One thought on “Art Business: Artists Ask, Experts Answer

  1. Q – I’ve heard that it is harmful to oil paintings if damar varnish is added to a stand oil medium. Is this true?

    Q – I have read about some artists using Megilp and Maroger mediums. Art conservation books warn against their use. Are these mediums safe to use, or do they darken and crack as they age?

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