Formulas for Painters by Robert Massey
This is a great book of recipes. Just like a cook, sometimes it helps to have a basic recipe to base your decision making on… This book also helped me understand the science of oil painting, especially when I was learning how to work with glazes while copying the Jan Davidsz de Heem Vase of Flowers. My ability to understand how to utilize "opaque" glazes would never have occurred without this book.
The book is divided into different sections, with recipes for grounds, paints, mediums, glazes, and much more…Having so many recipes in one place is very helpful when trying to decide on different options when considering a new painting method/application.
Each recipe has a description for purpose, ingredients, directions for manufacture, and directions for use. The recipe sections take up the majority of the book, and I sometimes find myself just reading this book like I do cookbooks… not with any purpose but because I am curious about the different combinations that are possible and archivally sound.
As fantastic as the recipe sections are it’s the small section on notes at the back of the book that hold many pearls of wisdom… nuggets of knowledge that have made such a difference in my understanding of using the oil medium. For example…
Note No. 8: Glazes and Dimension
By a judicious use of glazes, the painter can control to some extent the illusion of three dimensional space. The more heavily an area is glazed, the more it tends to recede; opaque surfaces, by contrast, appear to advance. By controlling the degree to which he glazes the various areas, the painter can push back or bring forward these areas.