Tag Archives: Flemish

Step Four: we got better ink!

In case you’re wondering what those lollipop things are—Gutenberg used goose-skin inking balls to apply ink to the form.

So oil paint was a hot ticket in the art world of the mid-1400s. If you’re Johannes Gutenberg and you need to figure out how to get ink to stick to your metal type, that oil binder looks pretty good. He developed an oil-based ink that’s thick, sticks to metal and can be applied evenly. Gutenberg created a blacker-than-black pigment by mixing carbon (charred bone), graphite, copper, lead, titanium and sulfur. The graphite and copper give the ink sheen (I’m guessing it’s the orangey copper that’s powdered somehow—like when you saw through a copper pipe with a hacksaw—rather than scraping the green corrosion).

https://www.historytoday.com/history-matters/history-ink-six-objects
Scroll down to Making Relief Ink to see how to make your own oil-based ink: https://www.lawrence.co.uk/blog/how-to-make-your-own-paint-relief-ink/
https://www.speedballart.com/our-product-lines/speedball-printmaking/speedball-blockrelief-printing/speedball-block-printing-inks/speedball-oil-based-inks/

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How to get better ink: Step Three

My take on A Man In A Red Turban, thought to be Jan van Eyck’s self-portrait.

A painter in the Netherlands, Jan van Eyck (yahn wahn IKE), made oil paint famous. You can get fine details and dramatic lighting effects and smooth blending of tones with oil paint more easily than in other media, and van Eyck was a master oil painter (as well as a master at drawing). Look at any of his paintings and you’ll see what I mean. Van Eyck mixed pigment with varnish to create transparent glazes of color—your eye looks through the layers. His paintings are like jewels. He may not have invented oil paint, but van Eyck put it on the map.*

Speaking of maps, Ghent isn’t all that far from Mainz. Gutenberg must have been aware of the Flemish art scene. https://geology.com/world/netherlands-satellite-image.shtml

* It used to be thought that Jan and his brother Hubert invented oil paint. That’s what Giorgio Vasari told me in his book The Lives of the Artists, and I believed him. It turns out they didn’t. Now I need to call all my old History of Graphic Design students and tell them the bad news.
https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-lives-of-the-artists_giorgio-vasari/325683/item/1243619/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_dWGBhDAARIsAMcYuJxUnr29Uil9zgUCCGHw4FvdpotvBxBVQt6wyJf1nvNF5IO6po_-E28aAroxEALw_wcB#idiq=1243619&edition=3580770
A pet peeve: Historians, nobody ‘discovered’ oil paint. It was invented.

http://www.oil-painting-techniques.com/analysis-jan-van-eyck.html
https://www.oilpaintingguide.com/brief-history-of-oil-painting/
https://biography.yourdictionary.com/hubert-and-jan-van-eyck
https://www.art.com/products/p12972944-sa-i2208828/jan-van-eyck-a-man-in-a-red-turban-self-portrait-of-jan-van-eyck-1433.htm?upi=P145KXO1ZOO&RFID=217825&ProductTarget=12972944-P145KXO1ZOO&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=PLA&gclid=CjwKCAjwrPCGBhALEiwAUl9X07zWpfGHcidrW5VW3uTpfJPZzPXU5i0zCbmyXc23qqHbcI5F5yOZDxoCFQsQAvD_BwE

Here’s where I use to teach History of Graphic Design back when it was Pittsburgh Technical Institute: https://ptcollege.edu/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

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