Egg tempera is water soluble and is a medium that was traditionally used before oil paints up until the fifteenth century. It is fast-drying and is often used to create highly detailed paintings from the careful build up of layers. The paint has a translucent quality and layers can be built up from an underdrawing and series of monochromatic underpaintings.
For a more detailed explanation, I recommend the book, The Artist’s Handbook by Ray Smith (available from Amazon). This excellent book in its section on Tempera, outlines the history and use of the medium.
You can also view my free step-by-step egg tempera technique pages:
- Buying pigments from an unknown source can make the process a bit of a mystery: Read more about natural pigments bought in Morocco
- A test of the lightfast quality of organic pigments:Read more about natural pigments, how stable are they?
- The first step is to prime a board. You will need to use traditional gesso with egg tempera: Read more about traditional gesso
- Before adding any paint, you will need to create an underdrawing: Read more about underdrawing
- Before you can mix up your paints, you need to grind them: Read more about grinding pigments for use with egg tempera
- This is the traditional recipe for making egg tempera paints:Read more about mixing egg yolk with pigment (traditional egg tempera)
- Using this recipe gives a paint that is closer to the quality of oil paints:Read more about the whole egg tempera recipe
- A technique that mixes layers of egg tempera with oil paints: Read more about the Mische technique