Yuliia Orlova: Networks in Oil Paintings

Restoration of old oil paintings has always been a challenging task due to enormous complexity of the materials used by artists. Oil paint mainly consists of binder and pigment. A pigment is responsible for the color and a binder is a substance that keeps the pigment particles together. Linseed oil is known to be the most common binder dating from 15th century. It polymerizes at room temperature and forms hard films of paint. These films are nothing but complex polymer networks that constantly interact with pigment particles. These systems are highly unstable and even after centuries they undergo various chemical transformations. Surprisingly, not much is known about the chemistry of binder and which molecular structures contribute to these polymer networks. We decided to tackle this problem and get better insight into the polymerization process of binding medium. Complex networks science has been successfully applied to the field of art and culture to capture the dynamics of cultural history. We chose to use complex networks approach to capture the dynamics of chemical processes in the binding medium of paintings. We developed a methodology that automatically reconstructs all possible monomer states and tracks the reaction pathways between them. Solving the kinetic model of the system we know how the states of these monomers are populated over time. From this point, the configuration model for random graph imitates the whole polymerization process and gives a global perspective on the state of the binding medium.

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