View Full Version : Sennelier egg tempera - it is me or the paint

12-10-2013, 01:14 PM
Reading about egg tempera, I became curious about it. Instead of investing in a set of pigments and go through the hassle of mixing the paints myself, I thought I could get my feet wet so to speak and first try prepared egg tempera.

Since "tempera" can mean a lot of things, I decided to try Sennelier egg tempera. Considering that for the price of the tubes I would have gotten an equal amount of *very* good oil paint, I thought I would be on the safe side quality-wise.

Let's just say that I was seriously underimpressed by the results. When I opened the tubes the binder rushed out from almost all of the tubes. Not just a little bit of binder like I got with the cheaper oil colors (long time replaced by now). But about 1 to 2 ml from each tube! In fact, I have never seen such a seperation before!

I had read that one of the challenges of working with tempera was how quickly they dried and that once dried, they were waterproof. I might have been spoiled by the quick drying time of acrylics, but the egg tempera dried much slower than my Golden acrylics. And as for unsoluable after drying? Well, after the colours were dry to the touch, I could still easily rewet the paint and blend new colour in like I can do with Gouache. Which was kind of nice, but not what I had come to believe.

So far the Sennelier egg tempera behaved like bratty Gouache. :(

So what I am wondering now is: is it me or the paint? Did I do something very wrong? Were my expectation entirely unrealistic?

Or is it the paint? Is that kind of separation normal or a sign of the colour lying in store for too much time? Should the dry egg tempera rewet that easily?

Is the Sennelier egg tempera paint even "real" tempera or is it a misnomen, just like some companies call inferior Gouache "tempera"?

If anybody could share experiences or suggestions, I'd be happy to hear it.

12-10-2013, 08:25 PM
From what I have read, Sennelier egg tempera contains some linseed oil, which is fine, but will make it slower drying than egg tempera made with just egg yolk and water.

Straight egg tempera is fast drying, as long as it is thinned well with water and applied very thinly (without much paint on the brush). If you go over and over an area with several layers very quickly, it can get a bit swampy and will stay damp for a while.

I haven't used tubed egg tempera. However, I have made my own with dry pigment, and also with tube watercolor mixed with egg yolk. They do separate easily, and I find myself stirring my paint wells now and then while painting. Heavy pigments, especially, sink to the bottom easily. I don't know if they add a stabilizing ingredient to tube egg tempera, but it seems if they did, it didn't work with your Sennelier paints.

12-14-2013, 11:12 PM
I got some Sennelier tubed egg tempera too, when i first became interested in ET. I thought the Sennelier stuff was pretty awful. Like Mayberry, I had much better luck with egg yolk and tubed watercolors, before I got into an ET workshp where we started with dry pigment.

12-15-2013, 08:59 AM
Hi, while its been a while since I've painted in egg tempera, I have had some sucess mixing the egg medium with windsor newton watercolour paints. Heres a study that's over 30 yrs old done with watercolour and egg.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Dec-2013/1322835-bird.jpg
oh, and there is an under layer of red ink cross hatch drawing. good luck

01-06-2014, 11:22 AM
Barbareola, I just got a set of Sennelier Egg Tempera paints for Christmas. I've been playing around with them and so far, I've liked them a lot. I've experienced none of the binder separation that you did- my paints seemed fresh & well-mixed (they came from Dick Blick). But like you, I also found the Senneliers could pick right up, like watercolor- it took very little pressure from my brush to dislodge the layers beneath. In one way this was great, because I could easily remove paint that didn't "go down right" or looked bad. But it was also kind of annoying. I ended up CAREFULLY putting a layer of matte medium down over my underpainting, so that it wouldn't come up when I began painting over it. I believe the matte medium is produced by Golden or Liquitex.

I've also noticed that the paints dry MUCH darker than when I initially put them down. 2 days after painting, the colors are quite rich and luminous.

Anyway, please keep us posted on your experimentation. I'd love to hear more about your experience with the Senneliers! :)