Crushed By Egg Tempera

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Saint Thomas is now on the easel to receive a grisaille underpainting in oils.   After being crushed by my attempt to make an egg-tempera grisaille underpainting on this panel of Thomas and Jesus, et al.,  I have decided to move my historical experimentations to a panel of more manageable dimensions.  Moses in the Rock is the only picture I have made using egg tempera as an underpainting and it is quite small.  This represents the largest panel I have ever undertaken with the most fully developed charters as well.  Egg tempera is very slow (and I already work very slowly), and having already allowed a 5 year window to make this picture,  I shall try to fully embrace those other challenges in a noble fashion in addition to honoring my time.

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Mixing the medium for the thinning of colors for underpainting.

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Applying a coat of thinned shellac over the absorbent gesso and egg tempera.

Please take a moment to visit my friend Mike Schultz interesting post on his blog the other day.

4 Comments on “Crushed By Egg Tempera

  1. Great post, Jack. I love seeing your studio. What a palette! It looks like it’s a tiered, double decker palette that dreams are made of. I really don’t know much about egg tempera, but are you worried it will be unstable even with the coat of shellac? Or do you think the shellac will cure it and keep it safe to work on top of? The painting is looking fantastic so far, as are the photos you are getting with your new camera and lens. <<>>

    • Hey, Mikey. Thank you for the compliments so far. I am entirely confident in the integrity of the egg tempera as a foundation. However, I was getting so bound up in the tedious nature of my inexperienced technique in that medium that I was truly dreading work on the picture. I thought that by working in a medium (oils) in which I have more freedom and confidence would breath life back into the picture for me. We’ll see if it works. I am not giving up on egg tempera, though.

      • I understand now. The Moses painting turned out so well I have no doubt that egg tempera is a good medium for a foundation. However, it seems a wise choice to switch to something you feel more comfortable with if it is affecting your progress/process. Isn’t egg tempura a time based medium that dries very quickly? Perhaps the old masters had apprentices and workshops to help prep when working on such a large scale.

      • You know, that is probably the single most overlooked “technique” of the masters, both from a standpoint of having been an apprentice, to becoming a master and having them.

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