Intro to Egg Tempera Painting Basics

See Prof Lieu’s very first reaction to egg tempera paints, painting on a wooden panel. Explained are the physical properties and experience of egg tempera.

65 min. video

Video Walkthrough

  • Hot press watercolor paper is an alternative to using a rigid panel, especially if you are just testing out the material.
  • A rigid panel is ideal.
  • You can use rabbitskin glue + a chalky substance like whiting powder.
  • Egg tempera cannot be painted on acrylic gesso, it’s not absorbent enough and the egg tempera won’t adhere.
  • Ampersand Claybord is a good option.
  • A porcelain palette works well so that the egg tempera feels smooth and can glide across the surface.
  • Egg tempera is best when it is very thin layers of transparent washes, sometimes 10-15 layers is needed.
  • Andrew Wyeth’s Helga paintings are egg tempera.
  • Byzantine art used a lot of egg tempera, and the Italian Renaissance with artists like Botticelli.
  • Soft brushes work best.
  • Egg tempera dries very fast, especially if you paint very thin, it can dry in 5 seconds.
  • Compared to gouache, egg tempera is not chalky and opaque the way gouache is.
  • Compared to watercolor, egg tempera feels more silky and smooth and creates much cleaner, crisper edges than watercolor.
  • You can reactivate egg tempera, but not all the way like you can with watercolor, some of the first strokes will still be a bit visible.
  • Egg tempera does cross-hatching exceptionally well.
  • You can blend the egg tempera, but it’s impossible to get something really smooth and isn’t idea.
  • Egg tempera is very smooth and silky, it glides across the surface beautifully.
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