Dramatic changes in the techniques and materials used by artists began to occur in the latter half of the eighteenth century as the binding media was given much more attention than in previous centuries. This is related to the rising professional status of artists and the formation of academies for training artists, especially in Britain. Rather than using well tested and reliable methods and materials, which were based on studio practice and apprenticeship, artists began trying out new processes. This, in turn, is related to the vain search for the “secrets of the old masters” that led to even more experimentation and even scandals, such as that experienced by the Royal Academy of Arts and its president, Benjamin West, at the turn of the nineteenth century.
George O’Hanlon is technical director of Natural Pigments and executive director of Iconofile, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting understanding of sacred art. George received his fine arts education and apprenticeship in Mexico. Upon his return to the United States, he worked as art director and then creative director for advertising agencies in Silicon Valley, working on such major accounts as Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Ricoh. He then established a marketing communications firm that was later acquired by the Japanese chemical giant, Shin-Etsu, where he was retained as president of U.S. marketing operations. In 1992, he left this post to study traditional art techniques and then in 2001, he founded Iconofile and then Natural Pigments to promote an understanding of these techniques among contemporary artists.