Recipe: Natural Egg Tempera

Recipe: Natural Egg Tempera

Egg Tempera painting predates oil painting as a professional painting medium. It's as old as the Egyptians, becoming most famous during the Renaissance and has now become very popular today. 

It has very unique characteristics: it produces a crisp, luminous, almost linear effect that’s quite different from oil. It's glossy, versatile, and long lasting.  Using egg yolk as the binder, this ancient technique makes a water-soluble paint that dries quickly, allowing for over-painting with more tempera or other mediums. Dozens of layers can be quickly applied in a single session yet the medium also allows for meticulous brushwork and fine, linear details. If you have never tried it, we thoroughly recommend the experience! Ideal for use on gessoed wood panels and other hard surfaces but also does well on medium to heavy weight paper.


Prep Time: 5 minutes per color

Step 1: Separate the yolk from the white: Break open an egg, cleanly separating the yolk from the white. Keeping the yolk whole, dry it by passing it back and forth in the palms of your hands, drying the palm with each pass (or roll it back and forth on a paper towel).

Step 2: Remove yolk from the sack: Hold the yolk over a dish or jar with your thumb and forefinger, and pierce the sack to allow the contents to flow out. Discard the empty sac.

Step 3: Mix with pigments. Mix yolk with earth pigments (start with 1:1 and then add more yolk as needed), and use water to thin the paint. A drop or two of clove oil can be added to slow spoilage.

Note: Tempera paint does not store well once mixed, so paint away!

It's best to paint on a non-flexible support.

More of a visual learner? Check out our video tutorial here!

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