Many came to see that exhibition, but few artists were as inspired by what they saw as the young
The stain-painting technique used by Helen Frankenthaler, and later by Washington Color School artists (counterclockwise from top): Magna paints (such as the vintage examples used here) were thinned out with turpentine and then poured across raw, unprimed canvas. Then, a sponge and felt-brush were used after each pour to push the wet paint across the surface. The haloing effect seen around each stain results from the turpentine that is used to thin out the paint, a step necessary for oil paints and the Magna brand of acrylic paint. This step would later become unnecessary with the introduction of new types of acrylic paint that eventually replaced Magna.
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.
Stefan Sagmeister: What is Happiness