Egg tempera – the words are heard and evoke past times for painters. In the BP portrait show this year there are at least two works with media – Tempera.
Over the years I have given my classes very few occasions to try this media. But this week, responding to a couple of people visiting the BP portrait show in Aberdeen art gallery and seeing the term Tempera as media for the paintings, we responded by making and working with our own egg tempera.
We drew roses.
We drew roses and then mixed the pigments, (lemon yellow, crimson, scarlet, cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue) with distilled water and egg yoke. Using super fresh eggs laid by my chicken the previous day.
The tempera media is like painting with velvet. It is an effort to make, but is so forgiving to work with. Whether thinned with water or full intensity you can create smooth areas of paint. It covers rough or hot pressed surfaces and it is colour fast. It paints a matt, opaque colour, covers the surface well and can be layered – light over dark or dark over light. It is delightfully versatile… But mix it and then use it.. The downside of the medium is that it does not keep. So concequently it has gone out of favour and we have sold our souls to convenience. Paint makers have created more convenient paints. Acrylic paint was produced to solve all the problems of oil, and tempera paints. All that troublesome mixing and use of solvents, turpentine, cleaners and long time drying (oil paint), short shelf life with tempera.
Now most people paint with plastic c..p. For convenience. Quick drying, mixes with water and is oh so easy. And in my opinion, totally unsatisfactory. ACRYLIC. Of course some people make fine works with it…
Look up Lorna Crawford art on Instagram. She has posted a lovely piece of tempera painting.