Determined to explore Frankenthaler’s innovations, Louis and Noland returned to Washington and, along with other members of their circle, began experimenting with this stain-painting technique. But there was one problem: the medium. Oil paint, when thinned down, loses some of its color saturation, resulting in paintings that appear to be slightly washed out. Rather serendipitously, a new paint medium that offered superior color properties to oil had just recently been developed.
Magna—released in 1947 by the artist Leonard Bocour and his nephew, the notable paint chemist Sam Golden—was the first-ever brand of acrylic paints formulated specifically for artists. Forgoing linseed oil for the same synthetic polymer used in Plexiglas, Bocour and Golden created a new class of paint that had many benefits over oil paint: acrylic paint dries faster than oil, it does not yellow because the acrylic resin is as clear as glass when dry, and most importantly, it can be applied thickly with the same consistency as oil paint or thinly with the same consistency as watercolor, all while retaining full color saturation.