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Art Terms in Action: Enamel

Learn the properties of enamel paint and why artists use it. To experiment on your own, take our online studio course Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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Video transcript

Male: Enamel paints are essentially household paints or automotive paints, and they've been used by artists for a long time as early as well, Pablo Picasso. In the early 20th century many abstract expressionist painters used it, but enamel is a tricky term because it doesn't really tell you what type of paint you're talking about, but rather the properties of that paint. There is alkyd enamel paints. There is acrylic enamel paint. There are latex enamel paints. It just means that actually the paint is quite fluid and you can see that it has a very low viscosity as I'm pouring it from the can here. It also means that the paint has a high covering power. So, that for consumers at home painting walls one coat should do the trick so you shouldn't see brush strokes and things like that on your wall. It also means that the paint is self leveling, very, very flat. Usually dries to a hard, often glossy finish.