Oil paintings age. Just as our hair turns grey, our skins wrinkles and our backs bend, the colour, texture and shape of paintings change over time. The chemical reactions that cause a paint to transform from a liquid paste to a solid film do not stop once the paint is dry. A painting is continuously interacting with water, oxygen and other gases in the air. On the inside, the oil binder keeps reacting slowly with pigments or other paint components. Some of this chemical activity can lead to paint degradation phenomena like flaking, delamination, transparency or the formation of protrusions. In my research, I try to understand the chemistry of oil paint to help museums preserve the world’s art collections.
My research currently focuses on the following topics: