Why Your Paint and Medium Sometimes Doesn’t Stick: The Beading on Your Canvas and How to Fix It

Yes, I promise, I’m really going to give you the solution.

So, for all of this fuss about paint or medium acting like “beads on a duck’s back,” it turns out the duck knew why all along.  So did Max Doerner.  Which is a good thing, because if it had been left to my powers of deduction it would have remained a mystery unsolved.

Why does water run off a Duck’s back?  Rumor has it (i.e., Yahoo! Answers) that ducks have something called a “preen gland” that produces a waterproof mixture of waxes and oils.

So guess why your paint or medium (when you “oil in”)–or even varnish–sometimes forms beads on an already-painted surface?  Yep, oil.

The solution?  I’ll pass this on to Max…

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The Library of Velazquez

Often before I leave on a trip I print and assemble a packet of articles to read along the way.  In the Summer of 2010 I collected a series of essays and investigations on Velazquez.  These included:

  • “Sargent after Velazquez” by Richard Ormond and Mary Pixley pulished in The Burlington Magazine in September of 2003;
  • “Velazquez as Connoisseur” by Enriqueta Harris published in The Burlington Magazine in July of 1982;
  • “Two Letters from Camillo Massimi to Diego Velazquez” by Jose’ Luis Colomer and Enriqueta Harris published in The Burlington Magazine in August of 1994;
  • “Velazquez’s Portrait of Camillo Massimi” by Enriqueta Harris published in The Burlington Magazine in August of 1958;
  • “Velazquez and the Queen of Hungary” by Enriqueta Harris and John Elliott published in T The Burlington Magazine published in January of 1976;
  • “The Problem of Velazquez’s Drawings” by Gridley McKim-Smith published in Master Drawings, Vol. 18, No. 1 in the Spring of 1980.

But there was one last essay that revealed a piece of information I found intriguing to the point of intoxication… and have headily dwelt on it these past several months.  In fact, I’ve even written (via email) to the Prado museum asking for further information.  I have yet to get an answer.

The work is entitled “New Facts About Velazquez,” written by F. J. Sanchez Cantón and published in The Burlington Magazine in December of 1945.  (If you are wondering how I got so much material regarding The Burlington Magazine, check out your friendly neighborhood JSTOR.)  In it, the author reveals that upon Velazquez’s death, an inventory was taken of his worldly belongings, which included his library.  Mr. Sanchez Cantón had the opportunity to view this inventory in 1925 and then goes on to say: “In 1942, I succeeded in publishing the inventory in full.”

Despite my reasonable research skills, I have not yet found this.


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Titian: His Colors and Technique

My friend and colleague, the Classicist Paul Gwynne, called my attention to this documentary just a couple of weeks ago: he had it on VHS, but I would have to wait to see it.

Not known for my patience, I immediately searched YouTube… but didn’t find anything.

Well, nothing can cure mediocre research skills like a good case of insomnia.  Tonight (this morning), I found it:

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