Preparing this emulsion is a bit like making mayonnaise: after continuous stirring the paint will bind and stop flowing.
Nettie was impatient and did not always take the time to remix her emulsions. The effect is still noticeable in her paintings from before approx. 1960 – they have a tendency to flake.
This led to intense correspondence between her and my father: she accused him of faulty techniques, while he reproached her for being sloppy in return. Nevertheless, they remained the best of friends.
After my father's death in 1960 and still facing ongoing technical issues, she continued the correspondence with me. (I am a paintings restorer.)
Top: Flaking self-portrait; emulsion paint on canvas, ca. 1956.
Right: Boy playing the violin in the street; last period.
WTogether we came to the conclusion that so-called ketone resin, a synthetic resin with many good properties, was easier to mix than the emulsion paint.
From then on Nettie's started working with increasingly thinner paints, and she lowered the amount of egg yolk in them. The paintings from that period suffer less from flaking.
Later on in her life she would alternate thin, glazing layers of oil paint and ketone resin, allowing her to achieve the watercolour-like effect (see the Boy playing the violin opposite) that would become increasingly manifest in her paintings, but without affecting the fixed structure.
In the end she would use thick paint only for highlighting purposes.
These paintings no longer suffer from flaking.
Doortje van Dantzig
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