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Picasso’s Paint

By Hayne Crum, Induron Chemist

Picasso's PaintI recently read an article about the paint Pablo Picasso used in his paintings. While you might think that a master like Picasso would use the finest paint available for canvas, that is not the case. Apparently, he used house paint. That’s right – the same paint that covered the exterior walls of homes was used on his masterpiece, “Red Armchair” and more.

Art historians speculate that Picasso is the first of the “masters” of the art world to have used this type of paint.

For centuries, artists mixed their own paint from fine oils and pigments. The paint that was made for commercial use (to decorate and protect houses and metals) simply was not good enough for fine artists’ portraits and paintings.

It was not until the beginning of the last century that commercial paint was processed well enough to produce a product that could live up to the high standards of an artist. However, that paint still used natural oils and ground pigments, and still had the problems that paint had for most of history – it cracked, faded and yellowed when exposed to air and natural light. These chemical processes were unavoidable with natural products.

However, over the years, technology has redefined how paints are produced. While some paints are still made the “old fashioned” way, newer paints are now much more durable and come in a huge array of pigments – paint colors that simply didn’t exist during Picasso’s lifetime. Continue reading Picasso’s Paint

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