What is Egg Tempera?
A Brief description:In the early medieval and Renaissance periods, egg tempera on gesso panels was the medium and support of choice by such famous artists as Fra Angelico, Verrocchio, Duccio, and Botticelli. Later on the Dutch painters introduced oil based paints on canvas and the complicated, painstaking, time-consuming egg tempera method was discarded.
Paint for egg tempera consists of dry pigments, water and pure egg yolk. When properly tempered, it is applied to a panel prepared with many layers of gesso made up from rabbit skin glue and whiting, and has been sanded down to a satiny finish. This painting surface is very porous.
The combination of these particular ingredients (egg yolk, water and dry pigment) produces paint with three important characteristics.
• First, it forms an insoluble film that can be over painted with more E.T. or a coat of oil paint.
• Second, it dries to the touch in seconds and more paint can be applied within minutes.
• Third, it adheres to the panel with extraordinary tenacity, but only if the paint is applied thinly, layer after layer. (Thick layers will crack and fall off.) It's this layering process that makes E.T. so unique. Each coat of under painting glows through the subsequent over painting, even when the final coats are fairly opaque. The optical result is a luminosity which cannot be duplicated by other mediums. The final painting is smooth and satiny to the touch, with a slight, soft shine. Textural effects are visual rather than tactile.