Artists can range from total disregard to outright obsessive when it comes to choosing materials. I have to admit a little fear and delight when it comes to being obsessive about materials. (When it comes to writing correctly, I'm clueless, so don't judge my word choice or sentence structure.) The old materials, the complicated scientific little things are so interesting. On the material obsession scale, I am low, but climbing.
Jerry Sumpter of http://uberart.wordpress.com/ is the latest to remind me to get on board the materials train. I just recieved my tube of flake white (lead) paint and it's so delightfully HEAVY (lead!) and so creamy and bright. I'm inspired to fix up the rabbits skin glue that I've been putting off, and I'm going to varnish some paintings with damar (it's humid out so I'll wait until the weekend when the weather changes) Jerry highly reccommends black oil, linseed oil heated in the prescence of lead. I have yet to purchase any, but will. One thing at a time.
Ralph Mayer, author of the classic Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, is a great guide to dealing with materials intelligently. I'm enjoying reading portions of that book. It would be great to find someone who knows first hand of these things with the time to walk me through it all. The art school I went to was amazing in teaching form and drawing, but really didn't have knowledge of materials; I do not complain about this, understanding form and drawing is essential to creating anything that could be cared for well enough to last anyway.