Modern paintings using sustainable 17th Century methods

Technique - Sustainable Art - TheArtChemist®

When observing art history, then it is also obvious that The Old Masters paintings, which are already between the 300 and 600 years old, are still in excellent condition. Being a chemist, Edwin recognized that their techniques are based on fundamental chemical laws. He was fascinated and surprised that the Old Masters seemed to know these laws, without the current chemical knowledge.  Isn’t this amazing? This must have been from experience or excellent intuition.

Painting is a discipline of ART.

It is the art of applying pigments on a support e.g. glass, linnen, wood, ceramic, paper, metallic or a wall. Essential for painting is to glue the pigments (color powders) by means of a pasta more or less viscous liquid that allows to stick the pigments to the support. Here the artist needs to know how to combine the different materials to create a sustainable artwork - this is chemistry.

After studying 17th century literature, current investigation by other scientists, and his own chemical knowledge (Edwin is an organic and organometallic chemist), Edwin understands very well how to build a sustainable piece of art. It starts with the choice on the painting surface. What is better, a canvas from linen or from cotton, a panel of wood, a marble stone, or a metal piece like copper? From all investigated pieces of art, it clearly appears that a panel of wood or metal gives more intact artworks than canvas. However, oak panels or copper plates are heavy and inconvenient to transport. To combine the advantages of both a panel as a canvas, Edwin prepares so-called marouflage. This is a 3000 year old technique, where a canvas is glued on a solid support, like wood, wall etc.

Creation process of the paintings

Inventio and Photo Inventio

Edwin starts his journey of creating an artwork by casting a model that fits with the message he wants to express in his artwork. As the Old Masters scetched with charcoal on paper, the "inventio" process, Edwin uses also photography for this process and he calls this "photo inventio".  

The Marouflage Process

What the most people don't know is that linen on itself is not a very suitable support for a painting. Oilpaint and linen react differently on natural changes in air humidity. The result is craquelure of the paint layer. Wood is much more resistent to these climate changes but the nice texture of the linen is not present. The marouflage is a technique that goes back to the icon painting tradition, where linen was glued on wooden panels. Then, it was treated with calcium gesso and polished, where the linen structure got lost Edwin re-invented the marouflage by glueing the best linen in the world (Belgian Linen® from Roesselaere, Belgium)  Then he grounds this with self made secret gesso (primer). After that, he paints the panel with one colour, the “imprimitura”. This initial layer determines the final atmosphere in the painting, as it shines through the final artwork. Therefore, it is extremely important to choose this imprimitura layer correctly.


The Painting Phase 

Then, he sketches the composition on the panel, and after that, he starts with making the monochromal underpainting using one dark colour and white. Here he focusses on the shape of the woman without being distracted by colour. Depending on the dark colour used, the resulting underpainting will be a “grisaille” (black/white), “brunaille” (brown/white) or a “verdaccio” (green/white). At that moment, the painting looks without life and therefore the Old Masters also called the underpainting “deadpainting”. And then the magic starts: he begins to apply the colour layers and then life comes in the painting, like a wizard that uses his brushes as a magic wand. For colors that are not available or of insufficient quality, Edwin is creating his own oil paint. 

This laborious process till the finished painting may take up to 25 layers., and many hours of inspiring and beautiful work. 

Edwin’s work is able to decorate all interiors, classic until modern. 

His works are available as original paintings as high quality reproduction in limited series (giclee).