Painting, You’re Doing It Wrong

Don’t bother asking Mark Gottsegen – founder of AMIEN, author of The Painter’s Handbook, teacher, artist, and all around art materials guru – what’s the best type of paint to use?  “I get asked this all the time,” said Gottsegen, who took time out from writing to speak to me last week.  “And I say, well, I can’t tell you that.”

It’s not that he doesn’t have opinions on the matter, but as someone devoted to the scientific study of art materials he realizes the importance of maintaining an unbiased position.  AMIEN, which stands for Art Materials Information and Education Network, bills itself as “the only unbiased source of information about art materials on the internet.”  They do not accept advertising and do not allow the promotion of any specific products. In a series of forums on the AMIEN website, users can post their questions about art materials and get answers from a team of knowledgeable moderators and other experts in the field who monitor the site.  (Gottsegen informed me that he personally reviews each answer for accuracy).  AMIEN’s board of directors includes conservation scientists from top institutions, founders of well-known art supply companies, and artists from around the county.  Many of them help answer user’s questions on the site as well. – Trevor Spaulding, Los Angeles Contributor

While you are never going to reach a consensus among painters about something as personal and subjective as best gesso, when it comes to materials, there are some objective realities that dictate proper use.  Sure, you can ignore them, but you do so at your own peril.