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Materials of Art

HNRS 1036 Sec. 090 - Fall 2022

Professor John Pojman Department of Chemistry

Tu Th 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Make your own fresco!  Paint with egg yolk like medieval artists!  Create your own oil paints. Learn why Jackson Pollock used Duco paint! Learn how oil paint is different than acrylic paint.

Our goal is to learn how visual art through the ages has been influenced by the development of new materials, especially polymeric materials. 

In the course we will explore the science of the materials used in visual art through the ages, with special emphasis on how the advent of new materials, especially polymers, allowed new art forms.  We will do in-class activities including making frescoes, tempera painting with egg yolk, making watercolor paints, oil paints, and using acrylic paints.  The final project will be an experimental investigation of your own design.

We will consider art in terms of four questions:

  • What are the materials used?
  • What chemical reactions and/or physical changes occur in the making of the art?
  • How do the properties of the materials and the reactions/physical changes affect the art that can be created?
  • How do the properties of the materials and the reactions/ physical changes affect the stability and conservation of the art?

Fulfills General Education:

Natural Sciences