Friday, October 09, 2009

Egg Tempera

This week in media and methods we started using egg tempera, and gave our aural reports on the paintings we chose in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of art done in that medium. I did my report on the paint Dead Christ Supported by Two Angles by Carlo Crivelli (c. 1435 – c. 1495) an Italian Renaissance painter. Last week we saw a movie on Paul Cadmus who used that medium extensively in his work. It's also a medium employed by Andrew Wyeth to great effect in his work which I was studying again the last trip I just took to the Brandywine river Museum. One thing you learn right away is that it will take a long time to do a painting in this medium, so it's not for those who lack patience or like detail, but when used well or by a master this medium is really fantastic and can create amazing detail and lushness.

In class our teacher Anthony Ciambella showed us how to separate the yoke from the white of the egg using a wet paper towel and then to put the yoke into a jar with a cap of distilled water and then taking the pigments from the various colors mix them with the egg on a glass palette and start painting one stroke at a time. using rag board we all started messing around with a painting to try out the effects and see what the medium can do. You notice right away that egg tempera is thinner, more transparent unlike regular tempera or Gouache which have chalk and gum arabic mixed in that makes it thicker or denser. Everybody really got into it and many stayed after class painting away.

This is the little head I started in class and it became clear very quickly that it would take a long time to do a painting, layer upon layer upon layer, cross hatching down the color in a weave across the surface, using dry brush and wet brush techniques. This little head is nothing great, just a test drive, but I think I will actually try to do a painting in this medium that I can take to greater completeness.


Anonymous said...

great technique!

Rondell said...

What's wrong with you?!

Linda Paul said...

Hi Micheal
Congrats on taking on an egg tempera painting. You might just get hooked. I am. Its even more fun to break the egg tempera rules. You can work my latest egg tempera painting in progress at