Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Geek: Egg Tempera

Disapproving chicken
graphite sketch by Estelle Rocca-Serra
Here is a little low-down on the very unique technique of Egg Tempera.

Egg tempera, is not a deep fried Japanese speciality, but a very ancient, although still in use today, and permanent fast-drying painting medium that uses egg to bind coloured pigments.

For this form of painting most often only the content of the egg yolk is used. The white of the egg and the membrane of the yolk are discarded. The membrane of the yolk is dangled over a receptacle and punctured to drain off the liquid inside. The artist then produces the paint by mixing finely ground pigments and egg yolk diluted with water.

Each stroke is laid down quickly and precisely and should dry to the touch in four or five seconds. Tempera paint dries rapidly and produces a smooth matte finish. The process is slow though because many successive layers are applied, which give the final painting its characteristic clarity and luminosity. The colours of an unvarnished tempera painting resemble a pastel.

Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting, every surviving panel painting by Michelangelo is egg tempera.

Well, I reckon Mr Grumpy Chicken up there should be rather proud!

Stay tuned…

Sources: Wikipedia; Daniel Smith; The Society of Tempera Painters.

No comments:

Post a Comment