This is a progress update of a painting that I began last year illustrating one of the visions of the old testament prophet, Zechariah. After making a complete grayscale (grisaille) in egg tempera, I have been doing a base color layer in egg tempera with a limited palette, of two earth tones, with a red, yellow, blue, black and white. The final layers of the painting will employ translucent oil glazes.
I wanted to share a series of images showing the process of the making of an underpainting which I have been working on for the past few months. The image itself is an illustration of a vision of the biblical prophet Zechariah laid out in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament. It is a beautiful story of God’s grace and restoration, rich in symbolism and images. It is not very long and is certainly worth reading.
This grisaille is done in egg tempera on an oak panel, built from an oak that came down on my father’s farm in Greenwood county, was subsequently milled (quarter sawn) and air dried for 10 years. The panel has been cradled with walnut and ash to help keep it flat over time. The surface is a traditional gesso as describe out by the 14th century Florentine Cennino Cennini in his Il libro dell’arte. Once the grisaille is complete, I will start to paint layers of translucent colored oil glazes, hopefully to beautiful effect.
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.
Mixing the medium for the thinning of colors for underpainting.
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.
Bellow are some photographs of some very small amounts of pigments being ground with water, in preparation for being mixed at need with egg yolk to make egg tempera. Having a ready supply of fresh hen’s eggs, it is the logical paint to start making, as well as learning slightly parallel to the western historical progression of the technology of paint-making.
Grinding vine black with water, using a glass muller and “slab”.
Collecting a small batch of yellow earth from the muller.
Four jars of pigment, ground with and then submerged in water.