Egg tempera

I have been testing the limits of egg tempera on large supports via a range of application methods.


These methods include the use of brushes of varying types attached to the ends of very long sticks to make continuous, rapid lines and solid marks. My trialling of broad, speedy strokes made with heavily-loaded, large brushes and rags differs from the patient intricacy of traditional egg tempera painting. 


One of the oldest painting mediums, tempera paint is made by mixing powder pigment with a water-soluble binding agent such as egg, gum Arabic or animal glue. A specific form of the tempera method, egg tempera is made by mixing precise proportions of egg yolk, distilled water and powder pigment. 


Egg tempera reached its zenith in Italy for a short time during the mid-Renaissance before oil paint took over. By the early 1440s, most Italian painters were transitioning to oil paint following the trend in Northern Europe. By the late 1400s, the majority of artists who still worked with egg tempera maintained a prescribed method taught by masters and guilds, including iconographers who continued to meet the demand for religious, portable panel pieces. Their method was rigidly systematic, and allowed little or no room for the individual's creative use of the medium. Egg tempera thus became associated with a certain type of painting: usually small; mostly depicting religious narrative; on wooden panels; delicately executed; detailed and exacting. 


For me, the possibilities of the physical properties of this material keep raising questions. As with other traditional painting methods, I test the limits of egg tempera by using the medium in unconventional ways. This exposes and documents the physical properties of the medium within the artwork, which is always a testing ground.