Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. A short course in forgetting chemistry -- 2. How to count in oil and stone -- 3. The mouldy materia prima -- 4. How do substances occupy the mind? -- 5. Coagulating, cohobating, macerating, reverberating -- 6. The studio as a kind of psychosis -- 7. Steplessness -- 8. The beautiful reddish light of the philosopher's stone -- 9. Last words.
In What Painting Is, James Elkins communicates the experience of painting beyond the traditional vocabulary of art history. Alchemy provides a magical language to explore what it is a painter really does in the studio - the smells, the mess, the struggle to control the uncontrollable, the special knowledge only painters hold of how colors will mix, and how they will look. Written from the perspective of a painter-turned-art historian, What Painting Is is like nothing you have ever read about art.