Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paintin' With The Chicken Eggs




The question was asked today on a site I subscribe to called, CanvooBrushBuzz, about what grade of paint is being used as artists. Do we use the cheaper student grade or the higher priced and supposed better quality grade. I could not help but comment, being a convert and champion of egg tempera painting.

I find it strange and well, I suppose it is a sign of the times we live in, that I attend a wonderful University, and in my opinion, an even more wonderful Fine Art Department, that has a long history, once full of artists, students and studio Professors that were steeped in the discipline of egg tempera painting. Now, there is next to none. 

I am very fortunate to have a Studio Professor / Advisor that has both encouraged and helped me to find the information I need in order to enable me to learn. He is a wonderful teacher and mentor; Mount Allison is full of them.

Before a actually took up egg tempera painting, I was very blessed to see Tom Forrestall's retrospective show, in the Owens Gallery at Mount Allison University, where I am a student going into my fourth year,  completing my BFA degree. 

I was absolutely spell bound by all his paintings and sketch books and so thrilled to be able to meet him and discuss the process of egg tempera painting.

As an artist, and now a mature art student, monetarily, the price I pay for paints is an one going consideration and struggle. I have used oil paint for many years, and when I could rarely afford the better paint grades, I would purchase them.

I'm always on the hunt for bargains without sacrificing quality, that said, I think the art supply companies are making money, hand over fist, selling extremely over priced products, to usually artists/students, who on a very lean budget.


I have recently taken up egg tempera for many reasons. It is more environmentally friendly and much cheaper and very high in quality. There is nothing to compare it to I believe.

The natural powdered pigment is good quality, along with some preferably fresh eggs ,that really helps to give the binding egg yolk a good consistency, if you learn to mix, prepare and apply it properly. The translucent quality the yolk gives is amazing and beautiful. 


Learning, being the operative word, painting with egg tempera is an ancient disciplined method, that has long stood the test of time and lasts for 100s of years. The painting actually gets better as it ages.

I have always worked with a very basic palette. I ordered  my pigment through a company and purchased five colours and a white, which cost me a total of $40. Each came in quarter pound packages, with the exception of the allizarin crimson which was 1/2 lb, in a container. I don't think I could find that much quality oil or acrylic tubes of paint for cheaper, and will last much longer. As well, I no longer have to bother with canvas as egg tempera needs to be done on a hard surface, like wood.


I doubt I will ever return to oil, and though I have much more to learn about painting, and egg tempera painting, I am so enjoying the learning process, which for me will never stop, and for this I am grateful to be a perpetual art student. 

No comments: