PROCESSES

Information on techniques:

Egg tempera:

Temperare in medieval Latin means blending or mixing. In the past the term tempera was used indiscriminately for all types of combinations of media. Today the word always implies an emulsion, a mixture of aqueous and nonaqueous binding materials. Egg yolk is a natural emulsion. Eggs have been used for painting since antiquity. They contain approximately 12% protein, 12% drying oils, and 74% water.

Egg tempera preparationsEgg tempera preparations

Egg yolk used alone as a binding medium was popular during the late middle ages but was also used by Greek artists at the time of Alexander the Great. Tradition prescribes the use of egg as a paint medium partly for religious reasons, for the egg has always been the symbol of new life.

On an exact outline drawing, the painter would begin with a grey monochrome underpainting called grisaille. and then continue painting in thin layers of colors (glazes) that were at that time prescribed by strict iconographic rules. The painting is usually done on an absorbent gesso panel with sable brushes. The handling of the paint is usually a pencil-like brush-stroking with the point of the brush. The color is diluted with water but applied flowing from a dryish brush.

The medieval and early Renaissance painters who were masters of the medium include Fra Angelico, Verrocchio, Duccio and Botticelli. From the end of the fifteenth century till the 1920’s and 1930’s, egg tempera was a lost art. Cennino Cennini, a fifteenth century Italian who wrote a treatise on the techniques of the masters, was rediscovered and interest in the technique was revived. Today’s masters of egg tempera include Reginald Marsh, Thomas Hart Benton, Andrew Wyeth and Robert Vickrey. Although the technique used 500 years ago is still adhered to by many artists, others have experimented to suit their own styles.