Research exercise: Question 3 – Materials and processes


I decided to answer this first in my research notes in order to be able to condense into briefer notes and also because some of my research was unexpected that I wanted to keep a record.

I wondered how to answer this question first – do I look to the past to come forward to the future or do I look to the future to come back to the present?

… I ask myself this because of 5 separate pieces of research:

1.  In 1692 a Dutch artist known only as A Boogert set out to write a book about mixing water colours.  In starting the book he explained a little about colours and their use in painting and then subsequently about mixing hues and finally about how to change the tone by adding 1, 2 or 3 parts water.  His book in English is called the Treatise Colours but its proper title is Traite des couleurs servant a la peinture a l’eau and eventually spanned nearly 800 hand written pages.  Due to its uniqueness it was rarely seen by other painters despite it seeming to have been written as an educational study of colours.  Recently a medieval book historian called Erik Kwakel has posted about this extraordinary book on his blog and hence bought it to world wide attention – and happily it has also been scanned so it viewable on line at .

The reason I look to the past and mention Boogerts work is that paints for artists are developing all the time with the development of new pigments.  At the same time I came across Kwakel’s blog I also picked up for the first time the magazine called ‘The Artist’ and in there was article on Colour Solutions and it describes the weakness of the pigments used by the Old Masters against the stronger saturated pigments that were developed of the Impressionists and it seems the development of pigments continues.

For painters from brief research (and reading that magazine front to back!) it seems the developments for the future depend on the development of the basic tools of their trade i.e. the pigments, the brushes and their canvasses.

Painters/artists are also, like their predecessors, continuing to experiment with their craft and use of new materials including papers and a variety of surfaces as well as being influenced by cultural and social aspects of society or developments in science (like many I am fascinated by microscope or telescope images that are published).

Finally for painters and all artists who use sketches for their initial ideas or roughs there are developments in pencils (coloured and sketching) including comte pencils or similar and also I am aware of the Inktense pencils which can be used in a very similar way to water colour pencils.  In the magazine The Artist there was also a review of some spirit based brush pens called Shin Han which are double ended and clearly making their mark on the art world – the magazine talks of the depths of the tints in the pens and clearly the use of different and new pens of all types is ongoing.

I wonder now if A Boogert’s incredible book will influence further development in paints or pens or similar ….

2. Sculpture – for the part I go to the future and come back to the present because sculpture is where I have found an artist who seems to be at the forefront in that his work is that of what has been described as ‘fluidsculpture’ and he uses a lot of digital processes in his work.  His name is Gregoire A Meyer, a Parisian living in London, who creates sculptures that move or where a face comes out of water and whose use of metal as a reflective surface and texture seems to be in the future.  He creates sculptures that are digitally master but that appear solid – I am not a huge fan of sculptures but this style intrigues me.

The other innovation or current development I have noticed in sculpture also seems to be that car part sculptures or scrap metal – there is a move amongst many artists to recycle objects and use them in new ways to create something modern so bringing forward something from the past and taking it to the future.

Sculptors clearly are developing the way they use metal and are using it often also in conjunction with stone often traditionally as the plinth – a perfect example of a very modern sculpture based on a historic event is one of the 2 at the centre of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire which is close to where I live (I am going to be asking for a list of the actual artists if at all possible behind each and every individual sculpture).


Another material being developed in sculpture is glass as demonstrated by the naval monument at the National Arboretum …


This particular monument uses glass in a sculptural design and done in such a way that the sun casts the colours of the glass on the stone figure so he is on a shoreline.

As a final point the use of 3D technology and 3D printing cannot be left out and it will be interesting to see if this becomes part of a sculptors repertoire and how it is used.

3. Ceramics – the area I know least for this question.  I have become aware of the development of different glazes and pigments that being used and also that ceramicists seem to be drawn to develop their art in new ways – a favourite ceramic artist Jennifer Mccurdy uses a translucent porcelain for her work and fires it until it has reached a non porous state before finishing with the gilding of gold leaf so marries developments in the clay and firing processes along with ancient crafts.

Current developments also include the use of metals, glass  as well in the firing processes and developments of kilns –  new smaller kilns are allowing artists to control the temperature of the firing more effectively and to fire their work to their own specifications.

4. Regarding textiles – my experience here is more in the quilting world.  I have seen over a period of time an emergence of those whose art quilts revolve around recycling fabrics with new innovative quilting techniques and those who use newer fabrics but again with the new techniques that include different media e.g. fabric paints and pencils.  One particularly memorable art quilt was actually made of empty cans of beer and one of fabric with pebbles between the layers – both by the same lady.  Many art quilters are, like other artists, interested in pushing new boundaries and using many of the new threads and fabrics that are consistently being developed as well as incorporating said different media – some of the new pens and pencils developed for sketching and painting are also being used particularly for quilts that will be not be washed.

The other major innovation for quilters and textile artists is the on going development of sewing machines and the development of the long arm machines which is still in its relative infancy in terms of longevity – the computerization of sewing machines is an ongoing and major development.

Textiles itself I am only just learning really about through this course and discovering the newer processes but from my new experience it seems digital technology and the new fabric paints, dyes and pigments that seem to be coming through to the market place will have an impact as well as the development of different yarns and fabrics and any new techniques too.

5. Finally photography – the use of digital processes has without question changed photography and is developing at a very rapid pace.  My own brother, Andrew Murdock of Natural Artistry, I am aware uses many editing techniques or filters or even lenses along with new lighting techniques to create even deceptively simple pictures.

Brooke Shaden uses her photography to create worlds that surround her self portraits that extend beyond photographs and resemble paintings – her work is classed as fine art photography. She is known to explore the boundaries between art and technology and when I first saw her work I questioned whether it was really a photography such is her skill.

New digital techniques and cameras including those on mobile phones enable people to take photographs and digitally enhance or change the image easily – even into a sketch using a basic on line ‘app’.  In the hands of the professional these same images become art.  New films and papers are being used alongside sophisticated and ever advancing editing suites.  New and lighter in weight lighting for shoots is being developed.  New lenses and cameras are being designed with ever increasing computerised technology.  Professionals are able to capture images from under water or through waves with more clarity than ever before and work in extremes of temperature.  I have countless references of images taken by professionals of our world around us that also show the development in the colour processes and chemicals used to develop or print the pictures.

Photography is the newest of the arts but the one with the most rapid development too.

For this question I looked both backwards and forwards in order to be able to see the advances of the future more clearly – and in the case of Monsieur Meyer with his work it felt that he is almost in the future whilst working in the present with his ‘fluid sculpture’.


Please note I am writing this after the end of the course as I review my blogs in preparation for assessment and have discovered some blogs in which I had not correctly noted my references down.  I had yet to learn how to use the Harvard Referencing system and where possible I have updated the blogs but in some cases such as this I can only refer to the blog named BIBLIOGRAPHY in my Research and Reference section for a general list of sites were used during this first part of the course.

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