Saturday, August 29, 2009

Egg Tempera

The past few years I've taken up painting in egg tempera, mainly because I've been trying to learn to paint ("write") icons - which are traditionally done in that medium. For those who do not know, egg tempera is using pure powdered pigment and egg yolk as the vehicle, or stuff that makes the pigment viscous. Oil painting uses oil as the vehicle, watercolor water, and so on. Egg tempera fell out of favor with artists by and large when painting on rigid substrates (boards) gave way to painting on canvas. But still many artists use this medium, and some are quite known for it, including the late Andrew Wyeth.

I actually am finding that I like working in egg tempera more than painting in oils these days. It is much more suitable when painting small pictures as it is easier to control and makes less of a mess. The subtlety and layers you can get with it are amazing. Also one of the things that an artist has to take into consideration is storing and selling his work. Smaller works are the way to go for both. Oil paintings, at least how I do them, have to be pretty large for me to get the desired effect, but then they sometimes take a long time to sell, or they take up lots of space. Lastly, there is a peculiar look to egg tempera works that is especially suitable when painting religious scenes, which is what I am doing these days.

You can learn more about Egg Tempera here:

http://www.eggtempera.com/
http://www.eggtempera.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempera

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