How is AkzoNobel helping and what expertise are we bringing?
New paint formulations are made and tested in our labs every day. From the thousands of available ingredients, our experts choose candidates that could give us the desired results and then test them in a structured way. That’s the kind of expertise we’re bringing to this project – knowledge of many raw materials, vast experience of paint-making and experimental design. It’s all about working out what paint variations need to be made and what tests need to be done to get the answers you’re looking for.
We also have experience of measuring many aspects of paints and using dedicated equipment. A central aspect of the impasto project is rheology, in other words, how does the paint apply itself and how thickly can it be applied without sagging? We frequently use state-of-the-art rheometers to measure rheology in all its complexity. I must say, however, that impasto paint is very different from what we normally measure. But that makes it all the more exciting, because we can learn from this project as well.
What do you expect the biggest challenges to be?
By far the biggest challenge will be making choices. We want to figure out what paint composition Rembrandt could have used to make his famous impastos. But there are so many possible ingredients and ratios he could have used, that we might end up having to make thousands of test paints to find the answers. So we need to make smart choices to reduce the number of variations. By combining our own raw material experience with knowledge from historical literature and information from chemical analyses on Rembrandt’s paints carried out by the Rijksmuseum, we can focus on the raw materials that Rembrandt would most likely have used.
What can AkzoNobel learn from this project?
It will certainly extend our own experience with paint rheology, because impasto paint is so different from most of our products. It will also be inspiring to see what paint ingredients were used in Rembrandt’s time. Many of these ingredients were natural materials, such as linseed oil, egg yolk, natural gums and resins. Because of the renewed interest in green materials, it’ll be fascinating to see what was used centuries ago. Maybe it will spark an idea about how we can use these natural materials in modern paints. The project in general is very inspiring as well. I never realized Rembrandt was a pioneering paint formulator, he must have experimented before he could make the impasto paints that he’s so well-known for. Obviously we can relate to that drive and passion for making innovative, unique paints.