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turlogh
09-16-2006, 10:38 AM
RENAISSANCE ITALIAN PAINTING WORKSHOP

The moderators of this forum have asked me to do a workshop. While much of the posting in the classical forum is devoted to the 19th century, I thought it would be worthwhile to go a bit further back in time, to when most of the methods and aesthetics of 19th century were first created: the Italian Renaissance.

The Renaissance was a period in which Europeans rediscovered and built upon the ideas and aesthetics of classical antiquity (i.e., Greek and Roman civilization). In Italy, in the midst of many other changes in such areas as writing, architecture, sculpture mathematics, politics, and science, groups of painters began to move beyond the traditional Medieval approach to visual art and develop a new aesthetic. Over time, the ideas and methods they created (in synergy with developments from other parts of Europe, particularly the Netherlands) resulted in what we think of as modern painting.

While there is no sharp delineation of when this period began, most sources place the initiation of Italian Rennaissance painting some time in the 1300’s. Before that time, late Medieval painting throughout Europe was derrived from the Byzantine tradition of religious icons. In icon painting, there is no attempt to create any kind of realistic scene. Shading is arbitrary and not indicative of any particular light source. There are no cast shadows. Figures relate to each other symbolically, with no attempt to indicate realistic gestures or emotions. Objects are not drawn with realistic scale or perspective. The background was often a decorative surface of gold leaf. While iconic painting was beautiful (and this tradition continues with the practice of Orthodox and Russian icon painting), by the time of the Renaissance it did not fit with the new humanist ideas then being promulgated. A group of painters in early 14th century Florence, stimulated by ideas from other disciplines, began to paint more realistically. The core innovator of this movement was named Giotto di Bodoni (1267-1337). In his paintings, and the paintings of those who followed, there are modelled figures who interact in a space defined by perspective. Close objects are large and far objects are small. Modelling is used to indicate volume and weight, with a consistent source of light. The background was often painted (with gold leaf halos) rather than gilded. In combination with the emotionalism evident in the work of the Sienese painter Duccio di Buoninsegna, a new tradition developed that was much closer to modern painting.

Over the course of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, artists continued to innovate as the marketplace began to reward painters for excellence in rendering, composition, and use of color (before that, consumers of art were typically more concerned with how expensive the materials were than how skilled the artist was). In the early 15th century, Italian painters began to be influenced by Netherlandish artists, who were doing new things with oil paint. Artists learned anatomy, gesture, and facial expressiveness. They learned much more realistic approaches to rendering light, form shadow, and cast shadow. Great painters such as Botticelli, Bellini, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian set a new standard for magnificence to which artists have aspired ever since.

During this time, as artists developed new styles and learned how to render more realistically, they developed new materials and new painting methods. Oil painting changed from a secondary medium, used for certain special effects, to the primary painting material. Over the past 30 years, conservation scientists have learned a lot about how artists during this period did their work. In this workshop, I’ll focus on those materials and methods. In the process, I think that even those of you who are more interested in the paintings of Bougereau than those of Raphael may find it useful to know more about where the 19th century painting tradition came from.

What I will cover is the preparation of supports and grounds; working with underdrawings; making egg tempera, tempera grassa, and oil paint; and historical methods of working with those media. I won’t cover gilding, because my gilding skills are pathetic. I’ll skip two Renaissance painting media—fresco and distemper—because I don’t know enough about them to tell anyone how to use them.

turlogh
09-16-2006, 10:41 AM
Although many of you will probably prefer to just follow along, I’ll provide a few exercises and projects for anyone who actually wants to get their hands dirty. Since this is a topic that potentially involves a lot of specialty materials, I’m going to start with a list of the stuff you might want to buy if you wish to follow along as we go. Some of these materials are potentially toxic (although I also include less problematic alternatives), and I will also review basic studio safety practices that allow this kind of stuff to be used without any health problems.

In the list below, I’ll divide things into a simple approach and a traditional approach. The simple approach is designed for maximum convenience, using materials that are readily available. The traditional approach uses the same or similar materials, for the most part, that Renaissance Italians used. I’ll deviate from that only when necessary, and I’ll let you know why. If you want to use the traditional approach and you don’t happen to live near a big art store, you’ll need to get some stuff on the internet. I’ll provide web sites where these materials are available.

1. PAINTING SUPPORT AND PRIMING

SIMPLE APPROACH

If you want to try tempera, you will need one or more panels that are are primed with traditional gesso. Don’t use panels primed with acrylic “gesso,” clayboard, or pastel board. The best sources I know are Real Gesso (www.realgesso.com) and True Gesso Panels (www.true-gesso-panels.com). Both of these companies will send free samples upon request.

Once we get to oil painting, you can use regular craft store acrylic primed canvas, or various kinds of acrylic panel. You can also use traditional gesso panels.

TRADITIONAL APPROACH

PANEL: the material used for this was wooden planks. These were typically cut and planed to size and then seasoned for at year or more, with further planing to correct for warping, until the panel demonstrated that it was dimensionally stable. So what we’re going to do is all go make some panels, and then I’ll continue the workshop in two years. I kid! I kid! Unless you happen to have seasoned panels hanging around, we’re going to have to cheat. What I suggest you do is go to your local home improvement store and buy some 1/4” hardboard. Get the nice folks at the store to cut it into several panels of whatever size you find comfortable to paint on. The reasons I want you to use panel are that (1) most of the surviving paintings from before 1500 are on panel; and (2) we’re going to cover egg tempera and tempera grassa painting, and those are not appropriate media for painting on canvas.

POWDERED GYPSUM: This is best ordered from Kremer (www.kremer-pigmente.de/englisch/homee.htm) or Sinopia (www.sinopia.com). It’s also called Bolognese chalk. Plaster of Paris is cooked (anhydrous gypsum) but the brands I’ve tried are too gritty for this purpose. An easier material to find is powdered marble dust, which most large art suppliers carry (www.dickblick.com, for example). Italians used gypsum (Northern Europeans in the Renaissance used the equivalent of marble dust), but they perform similarly.

HIDE GLUE/RABBITSKIN GLUE: Another art store item. You can substitute gelatin from the grocery store if necessary. I’ve heard of PVA glue being substituted for hide glue in making gesso, but I don’t know how well that works.

DENATURED ALCOHOL: Get this at the hardware store. You don’t need much. Rubbing alcohol from the drug store/chemist’s shop will do as well.

DOUBLE BOILER: Or any contraption that allows one pan to be placed in a warm water bath. I use a large cheap pan and a smal cheap pan, with the small cheap pan supported by an old tuna can.

GESSO BRUSH: You can buy brushes with this label in art stores. Any flat brush 1-3 inches wide will do, even a housepainting brush.

SANDPAPER: Several grades.

OIL PRIMER: In the later Renaissance, oil painters primed their supports with lead white. You can substitute titanium primer if you prefer.
Studio Products sells a lead oil primer and Williamsburg sells both lead and titanium oil primers. You could also use regular lead white or titanium white paint.

2. RENAISSANCE PAINTS AND PIGMENTS

IMPORTANT: Please do not get any of the pigments labelled “toxic” unless you know how to work with poisonous powders. Don’t handle any of the pigments without using a dust mask. I’ll be discussing studio safety issues later on.

SIMPLE APPROACH

If you don’t want to mess around with powdered pigments, is possible to make egg tempera paint using tube watercolor paints. There are also tube “egg tempera” paints. Those are actually egg-oil emulsions, which are like the tempera grassa paints used in the Renaissance.

Under no circumstances should you confuse egg tempera with notoxic “tempera” poster paints. Other than being kinds of paint, egg tempera and poster paints have nothing to do with each other.

You can use regular tube oil paints instead of making your own. Most Italian Renaissance painters used paint ground in walnut oil; the only company that does this is M. Graham. In a pinch, any oil paints will do.

The colors you get can be drawn from the list below.

TRADITIONAL APPROACH

You will need to get some pigments. These are available in larger art stores, or from various online suppliers. I’ve used pigments from Kremmer (www.kremer-pigmente.de), Williamsburg (http://www.williamsburgoilpaint.bizland.com/), and Sinopia (www.sinopia.com). It helps to have some small glass jars to put them in; I buy them from craft shops and art supply stores. Baby formula and baby food jars work great, but boil them in water for 20 minutes to make sure that they have no bacteria. If you will be doing tempera, then buy some distilled water from your local pharmacy or market.

A typical Renaissance palette contained very few colors. Here is a list of typical colors:

ULTRAMARINE BLUE: Get synthetic ultramarine; genuine ultramarine made from lapis lazuli is very, very expensive.

VERMILLION/CINNABAR: This is expensive and toxic. A good substitute is cadmium red light or cadmium vermillion.

FLAKE WHITE: This is toxic. A good substitute is a 50/50 mix of titanium white and zinc white.

LEAD TIN YELLOW (GALLORINO): This is toxic. A good substitute is Williamsburg’s Naples Yellow Italian, or a mixture of 3 parts yellow ochre with 1 part cadmium yellow.

VERDIGRIS: This is very difficult to work with verdigris in the manner that Italians did in the Renaissance: it required cooking with oil and resins. A good substitute is viridian.

RED LAKE: A modern red lake is alizarin crimson.

BLACK: Get vine black or ivory black. No Mars black.

TERRE VERTE: The best green earth I’ve seen is Williamsburg’s Italian terre verte.

OTHER EARTH COLORS: get at least a raw sienna, a yellow ochre, and a burnt sienna or red ochre. Umbers were not commonly used. There is a very wide variety of beautiful earth colors available in pigment form.

There are a number of less common Renaissance colors that you can get if you like, including smalt blue (ground cobalt glass), indigo blue, and malachite. You could also get toxic colors like minium (red lead), orpiment, or realgar.

3. OILS, BRUSHES, AND OTHER MATERIALS

To make egg tempera or tempera grassa, we will need hen’s eggs. Get them fresh from the market (or a chicken coop) and use them within a week.

The traditional approach to brushes would be to make your own. I don't know how to do that. Brushes were the equivalent of sable rounds and bristle rounds. Synthetics work OK, although I am very fond of Winsor Newton series 7 sable rounds. It’s not good for brushes to use them for both tempera and oil painting.

To make oil paint, you will need some oil (and pigment). Italians usually used walnut oil. You can get that from Kremmer or Doak. Some people recommend the stuff from grocery stores, but if you do make sure it doesn’t have anything added to it (anti-oxidants are good in human bodies, but oxidation is exactly what you want drying oils to do in paint). You can also use linseed oil. Italians did not, so far as I know, use safflower or poppy oil. To make oil paint, it helps to have a glass muller and a glass slab. You will also need carbonundrum powder to frost the muller and slab. Those can be gotten from Sinopia or Kremer.

Solvents were not common in this period. Leonardo is an exception; he probably used oil of spike (available from Kremer or from Studio Products; www.studioproducts.com). You can clean your brushes in mineral spirits or turps.

turlogh
09-16-2006, 10:50 AM
Working with Renaissance materials is not dangerous if you use reasonable precautions. I recommend that, unless you have a separate studio and are prepared to be very careful, you not work with toxic powdered pigments such as lead white, orpiment, or vermillion. I do recommend that pregnant and nursing women have nothing to do with materials containing lead, cadmium, or mercury. That doesn't mean there is any reason to give up painting, just that you should avoid certain pigments.

Get a dust mask and disposable latex or nitrile gloves if you will be working with pigments. Wear these whenever you are around pigment that is in powder form. You can take them off once they are mixed with water or oil.

The oil in oil paint is natural and non-toxic. You can buy them in markets and health food stores. They are edible and have a pleasant, mild odor.

No matter what pigments you work with, you need to make sure that you don't ingest paint. That means that you must develop safe and consistent work habits. Never put brushes in your mouth. Never touch your face or hair while painting. Don't eat, drink, or smoke while painting. Use disposable gloves if you have cuts on your hands. Make sure your workspace has good ventilation. Wash your hands (including under your fingernails) and all of your tools thoroughly after painting. Clean up your work area when you are done. And always make sure that painting materials are inaccessible to children and pets.

Solvents such as spirits of turpentine, mineral spirits, denatured alcohol, and oil of spike should be used with some care. Because they are volatile and evaporate quickly, use them in areas with good ventilation. They are potentially flammable, so don't allow open flames where solvents are being used. Some people are very sensitive to the smell of spirits of turpentine. Keep any container with solvents covered when not in use—don't have jars of medium or brush washing solvent just sitting open when you paint. Instead, keep the jar closed when you're not using it and don't leave brushes sitting in solvent—it's not good for them anyway. Mineral spirits and other odorless thinners don't have a noticeable smell, but don't be careless with those, either. They can cause headaches (which you might not ascribe to a substance without a smell) and some people (including me) have skin sensitivities to them.

If you are sensitive to solvents, they are not necessary for painting in a Renaissance style.

turlogh
09-16-2006, 11:33 AM
GENERAL READING

Cennini, Cennino d'Andrea. (Original ca. late 14th c., trans. 1954). The Craftsman's Handbook: “Il Libro dell' Arte,” translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover. This is the best painting manual that has come down to us from this period. Cennini gives an extensive description of the tempera painting in the Italian tradition of Giotto.

Dunkerton, Jill, et al. (1991). Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery. London: Yale University Press. This is the best general description of early to middle Renaissance painting that I know of. If you want to read one book on the subject, this is it.

Dunkerton, Jill, et al. (2001). Dürer to Veronese: Sixteenth Century Painting in the National Gallery. London: Yale University Press.

Thompson, Daniel V. (1957). Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting. London: Dover Publications. Although a little dated, this is a wonderful and inexpensive book on all sorts of painting materials.

Thompson, Daniel V. (1936). The Practice of Tempera Painting: Materials and Methods. New York: Dover Publications. This wonderful book covers not only tempera but also gilding, making gesso, and preparing panels.

ON THE INTERNET

*Dunkerton, Jill, and Carol Plazootta. (2001). “Vincenzo Foppa’s Adoration of the Kings.” Technical Bulletin #22. London: National Gallery. http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/PDFs/TB22_chp2.pdf

*Roy, Ashok, and Dillian Gordon. (2001). “Uccello’s Battle of San Romano.” Technical Bulletin #22. London: National Gallery. http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/PDFs/TB22_chp1.pdf

*Gordon, Dillian and Ashok Roy (2002). “Fra Angelico’s Predella for the High Altarpiece of San Do-menico, Fiesole.” Technical Bulletin #23. London: National Gallery.

Roy, Ashok, Marika Springm and Carol Plazzotta (2004). "Raphael's Early Work in the National Gallery: Paintings Before Rome." Technical Buletin #25: London: National Gallery. http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/PDFs/TB25.pdf

Web Gallery of Art (web site, 2005): http://www.wga.hu/.

ADDITIONAL READING

Baldini, Umberto. (1986). Primavera: The Restoration of Botticelli’s Masterpiece. Trans. Mary Fitton, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Baxandall, Michael (1984). Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bomford, David, et al. (1989). Art in the Making: Italian Painting Before 1400. London: National Gallery.

Bomford, David, et al. (2002). Art in the Making: Underdrawings in Renaissance Paintings. London: National Gallery.

Da Vinci, Leonardo (original early 16th c.., trans 2002). A Treatise on Painting, translated by John Francis Rigaud. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.

Gordon, Dillian (2001). The Italian Paintings 1400–1460. London: National Gallery Company Ltd.

Mactaggart, Peter, and Ann Mactaggart. (2002). Practical Gilding. London: Archetype Publications.

Murray, Peter and Linda Murray. (1963). The Art of the Renaissance. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Stephenson, Jonathon. (1989). The Materials and Techniques of Painting. New York: Watson-Guptill.

Watrous, James. (1957). The Craft of Old-Master Drawings. London: University of Wisconsin Press.

Nickel
09-16-2006, 12:57 PM
Thanks very much David !

This is going to be an awesome workshop!

Nickel

CareyG
09-16-2006, 01:10 PM
This is going to be really interesting, David--thanks for doing this.

That book list alone is a gem--just as a clarification, these are all currently in print, yes?

~!Carey

bjs0704
09-16-2006, 01:33 PM
David - This is really wonderful! There's just so much to work on!

Thanks for putting this class together. I'm looking forward to it!

Barb Solomon:cat:

Wrichards
09-16-2006, 01:55 PM
EYES WIDE OPEN! very much looking to learn as my style leans alot toward this period....

Queensoul
09-16-2006, 03:37 PM
Wonderful. Glad to see this workshop going on . Thanks

Titanium
09-16-2006, 04:59 PM
Pulls up a chair.
Titanium

rosebard
09-17-2006, 12:07 PM
Thanks for the workshop David. Very informative posts. :)

Looking forward to hear more and watch over your shoulder. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

Nickel
09-17-2006, 01:57 PM
Hi David

What is a good size panel to order starting out with this method?

Here is a fix on the link for

http://www.true-gesso-panels.com

http://www.studioproducts.com

http://www.sinopia.com

http://www.kremer-pigmente.de

http://www.williamsburgoilpaint.bizland.com

Barb if you can fix, it just has like two dingies at the end that don't belong.


Thanks Nickel

turlogh
09-17-2006, 05:40 PM
What is a good size panel to order starting out with this method?
It really depends on how ambitious you are. I've done projects between 7 x 7" and 16 x 20". In the Renaissance, Italian panels could be as large as 10 feet across or so. I wouldn't suggest that as a first step, though.

For learning purposes, I'd probably suggest a few small panels in the 5 x 7" range to try stuff out on, and a couple of panels in the 8 x 10" to 12 x 16" range to do actual projects with. But again, it really depends on what size you are comfortable doing relatively detailed work on.

Here is a fix on the link for

http://www.true-gesso-panels.com

http://www.studioproducts.com

http://www.sinopia.com

http://www.kremer-pigmente.de

http://www.williamsburgoilpaint.bizland.com

Barb if you can fix, it just has like two dingies at the end that don't belong.l
Sorry about any screwed up web addresses (note to self: mustn't rush these posts out). I'll try to be more careful in the future. Here is a post on how you can contact Robert Doak:

Robert Doak (http://allthestrangehours.blogspot.com/2006/07/robert-doak.html)

So my plan is to do a post on preparing panels with real gesso fairly soon. Then I'll wait a week or so and start talking about how they did underdrawings back in the day.

If anyone has any questions, please post them or send me a PM.

Nickel
09-17-2006, 10:15 PM
Thanks David. :)

rosebard
09-18-2006, 06:25 AM
HIDE GLUE/RABBITSKIN GLUE: Another art store item. You can substitute gelatin from the grocery store if necessary. I’ve heard of PVA glue being substituted for hide glue in making gesso, but I don’t know how well that works.


How one would prepare gelatin to use for this purpose?

Thanks in advance,
Rose.

turlogh
09-18-2006, 10:43 AM
How one would prepare gelatin to use for this purpose?I have not used food-grade gelatin myself—I've used hide glue. Here's what Daniel V. Thompson, in his book on tempera painting, says about gelatin:

"Weigh out an ounce of gelatine, and put it to soak in sixteen ounces of cold water in the top part of the double boiler; and when it has softened up and swelled thoroughly [which should not take more than ten or fifteen minutes], put some boiling water into the bottom part of the double boiler, replace the top part, and set it on the stove. It is not necessary for the water to reach the bottom of the top part of the boiler, and if it does, it is apt to boil over. All you want is a cloud of steam rising from the water and heating the upper container and its contents. Never heat this size solution over hot water. It is very easy to burn it or discolor it if you use direct heat, and it will be perfectly safe over the water bath. Stir the gelatine until it is dissolved, and make sure that no undissolved bits stick to the bottom or sides of the container. If you are doing a small job, you will not need all the solution at once, and you may pour half of it off into a bowl, to be used later on. Cover it, and keep it in a cool place."

rosebard
09-18-2006, 10:56 AM
Thanks David. :)

artbyjune
09-18-2006, 06:52 PM
:thumbsup: WOW!! This sounds like a great workshop. I will try to follow along, reading posts and so on, but not sure if I'll get time to join in. I'll try though.:wave:

Queensoul
09-18-2006, 11:29 PM
What books do you recommend on step by step Renaissance style painting techniques?
OT: I dont know why am not getting notifications on replies in this thread. I sure dont want to miss a thing.

EDIT: Oopsie! Seems I have to manually subscribe to the thread under 'thread tools'.

bjs0704
09-19-2006, 12:00 AM
Queensoul - This is a great workshop isn't it!

Check the preferences in your "My WC" options. Under "edit option" it ask if you want to be notified of new posts on threads. It could be that option somehow was turned off.

Barb Solomon:cat:

Queensoul
09-19-2006, 12:15 AM
Queensoul - This is a great workshop isn't it!

Check the preferences in your "My WC" options. Under "edit option" it ask if you want to be notified of new posts on threads. It could be that option somehow was turned off.

Barb Solomon:cat:
Indeed Barb! And thanks for the tip. Somehow that option slipped by me. Now I wont loose touch with threads again.

turlogh
09-19-2006, 08:19 AM
What books do you recommend on step by step Renaissance style painting techniques?
I don't know of any that cover the full breadth of methods used. That's why I'm doing this workshop.

For egg tempera, Daniel V. Thompson's "Practice of Tempera Painting" is very comprehensive (although somewhat dated).

turlogh
09-19-2006, 08:36 AM
“And let me tell you that doing a panel is really a gentleman’s job, for you may do anything you want with velvets on your back.”

—Cennino d’Andrea Cennini

Throughout the period under discussion, many paintings intended for permanent display, and the majority of those surviving to the present day, were done on wooden panels. The usual material was a flat wooden plank, or multiple planks fastened together. Sometimes, the panel was carved as an integral part of its frame or shaped to fit into an altarpiece or other large display. Panels were sometimes painted on both sides, especially when part of a folding diptych or polyptych.

Wood can be a problematic support for painting. Period literature notes a number of instances in which a painted panel cracked; the 16th century painter and biographer Giorgio Vassari identifies one such event as the (certainly fictional) motivation for Jan Van Eyck to invent modern oil painting. In his classic 20th century book on egg tempera, Daniel V. Thompson describes several difficulties for the modern artist who would like to use wooden panels for painting. First, it is difficult to acquire planks cut across the wwod grain from the center of large trees, as was usual in period. Second, once a plank has been cut and planed to size for painting, it is necessary to season it for at least a year, with additional planning as needed, to ensure its resistance to warping. Third, even properly seasoned panels are more likely to eventually warp or crack in a modern home, with heating and air conditioning, than in a Renaissance building (or climate-controlled museum).

These issues are unlikely to be a problem if you work on small paintings (no more than about 12–15" in their largest dimension), so it is quite reasonable to use wood for this purpose. If you wish to use the same kind of wood that period artists painted on, poplar was often used in Italy, but had to be cut thickly because of its softness. Walnut was also sometimes used, and occasionally cypress. Large panels were made with multiple planks, generally fastened together with battens nailed to their backs. Small panels were usually thinner (1/2" or so) while larger panels could be two or more inches thick. Generally, the backs of Italian panels were left planed roughly (except when the were intended to be seen, as on a folding diptych). At times, a panel would be carved with an integral frame. If you do cut and plane larger wooden panels to size, let them sit in your studio for at least 6–8 months (preferably a couple of years), with additional planing if any warping occurs.

It may be best to use alternative (non-period) supports for larger panels, at least for studies and practice pieces. There are several reasonable modern options that will handle similarly to wooden panels, with fewer difficulties. One choice is to purchase a laminated wooden panel designed for artist's use. These are nice to work with, but expensive unless your painting is small. Much modern construction-grade plywood is poorly made; the surface veneer is likely to eventually crack or delaminate. Good furniture-grade birch plywood can be an acceptable alternative. Modern-day artists often use construction materials made from pressed wood fibers, including hardboard (aka Masonite) and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Both are light, inexpensive, and available in lumber and home improvement stores (which will usually cut it to size for you). Hardboard should be at least 1/4" thick.

Priming materials

If your painting medium will be oil, it is possible to simply prime the surface of a panel with modern acrylic “gesso.” I don't recommend this approach, since it is not period and will not have the same painting characteristics as Renaissance materials (it’s also tough on brushes). For the same reason, I don't recommend pre-primed art boards, since they also use acrylic primer. In any event, egg tempera (and possibly tempera grassa, depending on the recipe) will probably not, over time, adhere reliably to acrylic. Another option is to purchase pre-made true gesso panels (see post on Recommended Supplies). These are usually on hardboard and the gesso may include (non-period) titanium white as a brightener, but they do save considerable work.

It is simple, if a little time-consuming, to prepare panels in the same manner as was done in the Renaissance. This approach is most efficient if you prepare several panels at the same time. You will need these supplies: hide or rabbit-skin glue, an inert white pigment (powdered gypsum or chalk), a double boiler, and a large brush. You can use a large round watercolor brush, a good-quality house painting or gesso brush, or even a disposable foam brush. Italian painters used gypsum (calcium sulfate), although it is more common these days to use chalk (calcium carbonate), which was used in the Renaissance in Northern Europe. In rare cases, wood ash was used instead, to save money. It is possible to get gypsum from Bologna (mentioned specifically in at least one period treatise as a good source for gypsum ) or chalk from Champagne from specialty suppliers (i.e., Kremer). It is also possible to use plaster of Paris (which is cooked gypsum), although the brands I’ve tried tend to be gritty. You can get finely-ground marble dust (chalk) in most art supply stores. You can buy pre-mixed gesso powder from various sources, but it usually includes non-period materials and won’t save you much time.

Hide glue

Hide glue comes in the form of powder or granules. Prepare it the day before. I find that one part (by volume) glue to 11 parts water works well for me, but depending on the glue you buy and the weather conditions, you may prefer 10 or 12 parts water. A cup of glue should be enough for two small panels (8 x 10" or so). Use hot water from the tap, stirring often for 5–10 minutes. Let it sit for at least several hours, or preferably overnight. The glue will form a thick gel. Put the glue into the inner pan of the double boiler. Fill the outer pan with hot tap water. Resist the temptation to heat the water on a stove, because excessive heat will weaken the glue. Once the glue pot is surrounded by warm water, it will liquefy within a few minutes.

Clean the panel with denatured alcohol to remove any grease or dirt and give it a few minutes to dry. Use your brush to coat the front, back, and sides of the panel with a thin layer of hide glue. The glue dries to the touch in 10 minutes or so, after which you can add a second layer. Another name for hide glue is “size,” so the initial application of glue is referred to as sizing the panel.

Cloth

At this point, if you like, you can cover the painting surface in a layer of cloth. This was almost always done before 1400; after that cloth was usually applied only if there were joins or imperfections in the panel and often only over those areas. If your panel is plywood, cloth may be improve longevity since it will reduce the risk that any cracks that develop in the surface veneer will ruin the painting. An old linen bed sheet or similar fabric is great for this purpose (if you use new fabric, wash it in hot water and then iron it). Thin fabric is easier to work with. Cut the fabric to size (you can overlap onto the sides and back of the panel, or not, as you prefer) and lay it over the panel, being careful to align the weave with the edges. Lift half the fabric up, brush glue generously onto the surface of the panel, and lay the fabric evenly over it. Use your fingers to push out any air bubbles and ensure that the whole surface of the fabric adheres evenly to the panel (you can also use a rolling pin or printer’s brayer). Repeat with the other half. Now coat the surface of the fabric with a layer of glue. After a couple of days, when it is dry and hard, you can trim any excess with a sharp knife.

Gesso

Now we’re ready to make real gesso. (Note that gesso is pronounced like “jesoe.”) Measure the volume of your remaining glue and pour it back into the double boiler. Measure out one and a half times as much gypsum or chalk. One spoonful at a time, put the gypsum or chalk into the glue, gently to avoid pulling air bubbles into the liquid. Let it soak for a few minutes, then mix it in gently and thoroughly with your brush. It will have the texture of heavy cream. If, as you work, the gesso starts to gel, you can re-warm it with fresh hot tap water in the double boiler.

When you are ready to apply the gesso to the panel, load your brush and wipe it gently on the side of the pan. Brush a small amount of gesso onto the panel and then work it into the surface with your hand. Cover the whole front of the panel methodically, rubbing it in by hand as you go (as Cennini tells us to do) and keeping the gesso layer thin. I hold a brush in my right hand and rub with my left (which gets quite messy). Wait until the surface of the gesso is just dry (no longer shiny or patchy) before you add the next layer. You can use a blow dryer to speed drying, but unless it has a cool air setting keep it at a distance to avoid cooking the glue. Brush on the gesso by putting on a stroke and then going back over the same area in the opposite direction. Do small sections at a time, working methodically. You don't need to rub the second and subsequent layers with your fingers unless there are bubbles in the gesso, which will show up as tiny pits in the dried surface (note that such pits are sometimes found in period work). Continue adding layers, waiting long enough for the surface to dry to the touch before adding the next (if the gesso cracks, you are not waiting long enough). Avoid brushing in the same direction from one layer to the next by brushing vertically on one layer and horizontally on the next. Apply at least six layers—I generally do 8–12.

Gesso grosso and gesso sottile

Early Renaissance Italians often laid on two kinds of gesso—the bottom layers were made with plain or cooked gypsum as I described above (“gesso grosso”) while the top layers were done with slaked gypsum (“gesso sottile”). After 1400 or so, artists often used only gesso grosso or gesso sottile, but not both.

Slaking gypsum changes its crystalline structure without changing it chemically. This process occurs when gypsum is kept in water for an extended period without being allowed to set. You need at least a gallon of water to slake a pound of gypsum, which seems like too much water at first, but without sufficient water the gypsum will set into hard plaster. Stir the gypsum for 15 minutes when you first put it in water, then every 15 minutes for the first two hours, then for several minutes each day for a whole month. Add more water when needed and skim off any effluvia that settles at the surface. At the end of a month, let it sit for a day without stirring, pour off the excess water, pour the slaked gypsum off into pieces of cloth, coffee filters, or heavy paper towels, then let it dry in cakes for several days.

To prepare the gesso sottile using the method described by Cennino Cennini, you should first mix the slaked gypsum with enough water to make a workable thin paste, then grind it thoroughly on a slab with a muller. (I’ll describe grinding with a muller when I discuss making oil paint.) Put the ground gypsum paste into cloth or heavy paper towels. Squeeze as much water out as you can, making a solid cake of moist gypsum. With a knife, slice the gypsum into small pieces and put them into the inner pan of a double boiler. Pour a little warm hide glue over the gypsum and mix it with your fingers. As Cennini tells us, “the gesso sottile wants to be tempered less than the gesso grosso,” which means that less glue is used than for regular gesso. I have found that mixing about equal volumes of gypsum and glue works well. Continue adding glue a little at a time, mixing as you go, until the mixture is silky smooth and about the consistency of thin pancake batter. Apply the first layer of gesso sottile to the panel by rubbing it in with your hand, just as you did with the first layer of regular gesso, then further layers with a brush. Work efficiently as you brush on each layer, because gesso sottile sets up a little more quickly than gesso grosso. Apply six or more layers.

Smoothing a panel

Let the gessoed panel dry for at least two days. Then you can use fine (150–400 grit) sandpaper to smooth the surface. Cennini recommends scraping the surface smooth with a knife , which works very well, especially for the final stages of smoothing. You can do this by putting an edge onto a paint scraper, cabinet scraper, or similar tool, or you can use a single-edged razor blade, first rounding the corners by scraping them on a file. Cennini’s method is to dust the surface with finely powdered charcoal and then scrape until all of the charcoal has been removed. Keep scraping, pulling the knife toward you with each stroke, until you have an absolutely smooth finish over the entire panel (small imperfections that you can barely see now will be very noticeable later on). In the 16th century, it was also common to smooth panels with sharkskin, for which you sandpaper is a reasonable substitute.

To make the surface even smoother, you can follow the scraping with wet polishing. Take a piece of soft cotton or linen about 12" square and get it damp by wetting it in warm water and wringing it out as much as possible. Wrap it over your fingers and go over the gesso slowly with an even circular motion, re-moistening as needed. A perfectly smooth surface is especially important if any part of the panel is to be gilded.

You should work the sides of the panel with a file or sandpaper so that the edge of the gesso is angled inward (chamfered). This is important, because it will make it less likely that a blow against the side of the panel will crack the gesso (I’ve had this happen).

A finished panel has a pale white eggshell-like surface that is almost too beautiful to paint on. But we're going to paint on it anyway.

Preventing a panel from warping

Hide glue is very strong stuff—stronger than most modern glues. Applied to the front a large panel made with MDF or hardboard, it can warp the panel, bending the longest sides inward. Wood and plywood are more resistant to warping, but it can still happen if the panel is thin or quite large. Depending on the panel, you may find that some means of countering this tendency is necessary in order avoid very noticeable warping.

The simplest solution is to coat both sides of the panel with equal amounts of gesso. It is also possible to use a extra layers of plain glue on the back (this is the approach I prefer). The glue on both sides will even out the stress on each side, resulting in a flat panel. It takes more time to do this than it does to coat just the front, but is simple (and of course necessary if you will be painting on both sides). As a last resort, I have reversed the warp of a gessoed MDF panel by suspending it on the edges of two books and leaving a stack of heavy books pressing the center down for several days (but that is hardly the best technique).

I do not recommend gluing wooden braces to the edges of the back of the panel, as these can eventually pull away from a warping panel, cause it to crack, or telegraph through in a faint raised pat-tern on the front. Museum conservators sometimes construct complicated wooden lattice structures, with sliding dovetail joints, to support the backs of panels. These are called cradles, but the making of them is far beyond my own meager carpentry skills so I cannot tell you how to do it. I know of one company (the Howard-Daniel Corporation; see the list of Suppliers) that sells nicely cradled hardboard panels surfaced with real gesso, but these are not inexpensive.

Preparing a panel for oil paint

While plain white gesso is a perfect painting surface for egg tempera, some artists find that it is too absorbent to make a good surface for oil or tempera grassa; the oil is sucked out of the paint, making it a bit disagreeable to work with. If so, there are several ways to make the surface less ab-sorbent:

1. Glue-rich gesso: When applying the final three or four layers of gesso to the panel, use gesso made with equal parts glue and gypsum or chalk. (Don’t use a glue-rich mixture for all layers, as it is more likely to warp the panel.) Botticelli used this approach for work in tempera grassa.

2. Oil: After the panel has been smoothed, apply linseed or walnut oil in as thin a layer as possible. Dip a finger in oil and spread it on the panel with the palm of your hand as far as it will go. Keep rubbing the whole panel, removing as much as you can. You can either paint on it immediately or let it dry for several days; if you let it dry, rub it lightly with a moist kitchen scrubee pad or very fine sandpaper before you begin to paint. Van Eyck used this approach for work in oil.

3. Oil primer: Another technique for oil painting is to prime over the gesso with white lead paint (sometimes toned with an earth pigment). As noted above, avoid acrylic primers. You can use regular lead white paint or commercial white lead primer. If you are concerned about leaded paint, substitute titanium white. Put it on smoothly and thinly with a wide knife or brush. Once you have the surface covered, give it a final brushing from edge to edge, trying to level the paint as much as you can. Give it a week to dry, then add a second layer if desired. Oil primers are best if allowed to cure for at least a month, or preferably several months. This approach became very common in the 16th century.

JeffG
09-19-2006, 08:36 AM
There's a DVD out called "Breaking Eggs, Making Paint", available from the
Brandywine River Museum Shop (http://www.brandywinemuseumshop.org/catalog/index.cfm/CategoryID/EA2F69F8-C78C-4DBE-946AC695F8D25F8F) for about 26 dollars. I got it and its pretty good if you want to see the early Italian rennaissance method of making a painting in egg tempera with gilding.

The DVD mostly follows Hilton Brown as he makes his very own Simone Martini tempera and gold saint portrait. It begins with Poplar board selection for a panel (complete with a cameo by a bemused Home Depot lumber department clerk), and goes throught the panel preparation process, water guilding and embossing, and painting (complete with a cameo by a scene-stealing flock of chickens).

There's also been some good articles in the past year from two masters of contemporary spins on using Rennaissance techniques on ET painting, in "Artists Magazine" from Koo Schadler, and in "American Artist" from Fred Wessel, available online for now. (http://www.myamericanartist.com/2006/08/using_egg_tempe.html)

turlogh
09-19-2006, 08:56 AM
Three hardboard panels cut and ready to gesso.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_1.jpg

Gelled hide glue in the double boiler. It will liquefy in 10 minutes or so of sitting in a bath of hot tap water.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_2.jpg

Sizing the panel.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_3.jpg

Powdered gypsum soaking in hide glue (1 part glue to 1.5 parts gypsum). Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then gently stir with a brush. Avoid getting bubbles in the mixture, as these can cause small pits in the gesso (you can find these pits in some Renaissance panels).

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_4.jpg

Rubbing the first layer of gesso in by hand.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_5.jpg

The first layer of gesso is not fully opaque. As it dries, it turns white and becomes somewhat less transparent. After several layers, the panels will be completely white.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_6.jpg

Sanding a dried panel.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_7.jpg

Chamfering the edge of a dried panel with a metal rasp. This is very important, since it will prevent the gesso from cracking if there is a shock to the side of the panel.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Sep-2006/25315-gesso_8.jpg

turlogh
09-19-2006, 09:01 AM
There's a DVD out called "Breaking Eggs, Making Paint", available from the
Brandywine River Museum Shop (http://www.brandywinemuseumshop.org/catalog/index.cfm/CategoryID/EA2F69F8-C78C-4DBE-946AC695F8D25F8F) for about 26 dollars. I got it and its pretty good if you want to see the early Italian rennaissance method of making a painting in egg tempera with gilding.

The DVD mostly follows Hilton Brown as he makes his very own Simone Martini tempera and gold saint portrait. It begins with Poplar board selection for a panel (complete with a cameo by a bemused Home Depot lumber department clerk), and goes throught the panel preparation process, water guilding and embossing, and painting (complete with a cameo by a scene-stealing flock of chickens).

There's also been some good articles in the past year from two masters of contemporary spins on using Rennaissance techniques on ET painting, in "Artists Magazine" from Koo Schadler, and in "American Artist" from Fred Wessel, available online for now. (http://www.myamericanartist.com/2006/08/using_egg_tempe.html)
Thanks, Jeff. I didn't know about the DVD. I do have a copy of the AA article, which I can strongly recommend. On his web site, Wessel also has a step by step demo of how to do flesh tones in tempera in the Renassance Italian method:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/f.wessel/tech.html#

(Hit the "continue" button for the demo.)

JeffG
09-19-2006, 09:21 AM
Excellent class, by the way. I'd definitely add this thread to the literature of how to paint using early techniques.

turlogh
09-19-2006, 05:30 PM
Excellent class, by the way. I'd definitely add this thread to the literature of how to paint using early techniques. Thanks. I think your tempera paintings are wonderful, so that means a lot.

Everyone else: if you haven't checked out the amazing paintings on Jeff's site, (http://www.jeffgola.com/) you owe it to yourself to go there and see what this medium can do.

Nickel
09-19-2006, 09:32 PM
David, the panels sound so beautiful!

Hi Jeff, nice to see you here too!

So which was preferred in the Renaissance, less or more absorbent panels?

On a small panel, with detail brushstrokes, I am thinking more absorbent might help application while less absorbent would allow an easier clean-up if I make a mistake.

turlogh
09-19-2006, 09:51 PM
So which was preferred in the Renaissance, less or more absorbent panels?
For tempera, absorbent is good. For oil, some artists seem to have preferred less absorbent.

On a small panel, with detail brushstrokes, I am thinking more absorbent might help application while less absorbent would allow an easier clean-up if I make a mistake.
Again, it depends on the medium. With oil paint, a very absorbent panel can make the first layer more difficult to apply (although the paint dries really fast, which can be nice). If I am working in oil on gesso I will sometimes just apply a layer of hide glue to a prepared and smoothed panel to cut the absorbency. That works just fine for me.

Since paintings were typically done in multiple layers, and details are generally applied last, the degree of absorbency didn't really affect detail work.

Nickel
09-19-2006, 10:00 PM
Ok, that helps. I understand. Thanks

turlogh
09-22-2006, 11:28 AM
“Before going any further, I will give you the exact proportions of a man. Those of a woman I will disregard, for she does not have any exact proportion.”

—Cennino d’Andrea Cennini

While there was considerable variability in Renaissance practice, it appears that most painters made an initial drawing on parchment or paper and transferred it to the painting surface before beginning to paint. In a few cases, both the original drawing and the painting have survived and can be compared. While the subject of drawing methods is beyond my scope with this workshop, the study of such period media as ink, chalk, metalpoint, charcoal, or watercolor would be valuable in developing an accurate technique. (The Craft of Old Master Drawings, by James Watrous, is an excellent guide to drawing methods from the Renaissance to the 19th century).

The drawing was often made at full size (this is called a cartoon) and then transferred to the painting surface. These were some of the transfer methods used:

1. Do the underdrawing freehand, using the original drawing as a model only. This could be done in charcoal, ink, metalpoint, or with black paint.

2. Pounce the drawing by poking small holes in the paper at close intervals along the lines of the composition. Place the drawing on the painting surface and sprinkle fine powdered charcoal or black chalk over the holes. You can also use a cloth bag filled with powder, tapping it lightly against the drawing. The paper is removed and, if desired, the drawing is elaborated with a stick of charcoal. Here is “The Knight’s Dream” by Raphael. On the left is the original cartoon. It has been pounced for transfer. On the right is the final painting. If you look carefully, you can see where Raphael changed and elaborated the composition as he developed the painting.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Sep-2006/25315-knight_drawing-painting.jpg

3. Coat the back of the drawing with powdered charcoal. Place the drawing against the painting surface and rub over the lines with a stylus or fingernail.

4. Draw a square grid pattern on the drawing and a proportionally identical grid on the painting surface (this method is especially useful if the drawing and the painting are different sizes). Use the grid to assist in freehand transfer of each section of the drawing to the painting surface.

Once the basic pattern was established in charcoal on the painting surface, it was usually reinforced and made more elaborate. First, since too much charcoal will bleed into the paint, excess charcoal was brushed mostly off, leaving a ghost image (Cennni suggest you do this with a feather; tissue paper also works well). The elaboration of the drawing was usually done in black ink, which could be applied either with a quill pen or a brush. This was usually iron gall ink, which was commonly used for writing and for illumination (decoration) of manuscripts. Although I have some from someone I know, I haven't made it and don't know of a supplier. It is also possible to make ink by mixing 3 or 4 parts black pigment with 1 part hide glue. This mixture will dry into a hard cake that can be reconstituted with a wet brush, just like watercolor. Modern India ink, watercolor paint, or gouache will also serve. Occasionally, silverpoint was used, or an underdrawing would be done in a quick-drying black paint such as egg tempera. Avoid graphite pencil or modern technical pens; aside from being inauthentic, they can bleed through into upper layers of paint.

Painters varied considerably in how elaborate their underdrawings were. At one extreme were paintings that have no apparent underdrawing (if so, it is possible that the underdrawing is there, but was done in a medium such ask oak gall that is undetectable with current scanning technology). At the other extreme are drawings that are fare more elaborately detailed and shaded than would be strictly needed to establish the structure of a painting. In between were drawings by artists who applied just enough of an underdrawing to guide the painting. There was often no attempt to use the same amount of development across the entire underdrawing, so fine detail was used in some places and looser drawing in others.

On panels, boundary lines of the underdrawing were often incised into the gesso with a metal stylus using a straightedge, compass, or freehand. Incising was most common when demarcating areas to be gilded. These lines could indicate the borders of architecture (especially to indicate linear perspective), halos, crowns, clothing, anatomy, or other prominent features of the composition.

Next, I’ll show an example of an underdrawing that I have been working on.

turlogh
09-22-2006, 11:39 AM
Some modern tempera painters do very elaborate ink underdrawings, with a full range of values established via hatching or graded washes, before they begin to paint. They use the underdrawing as essentially an underpainting, in which semi-opaque paint is applied in such a way that the underdrawing shows through and contributes strongly to the final optical effect.

I think this practice comes from Daniel Thompson, who in the early 20th century taught a course in tempera painting at Yale, and who also wrote THE book on how to paint in tempera. Thompson was a scholar of Rennaissance art, and he insisted that the key to Italian tempera technique was to begin with a full-value underdrawing, and that it was impossible to achieve the kinds of effects that period artists managed without such an underdrawing. Thompson was a careful scholar, and his book on tempera is excellent. However, since his time we have acquired the ability to look at Renaissance underdrawings via x-ray and infrared photography techniques. As it turns out, while some artists did elaborate underdrawings exactly the way Thompson describes, most did not. So, for a Renaissance technique, it is most appropriate to do as much underdrawing as you think will aid you in developing the final composition.

WCampbell
09-25-2006, 01:17 AM
I'm in and tagging along. This is good stuff!

Thanks David.

WCampbell

bjs0704
09-25-2006, 01:14 PM
David - I just want to make sure that I understand your directions. I assume that I would either use the pouncing method if I have a drawing the final size OR I use the gridding method.

I’ve ordered my things and I’m waiting on the mailman! I can’t wait to get a start!:D

Your directions are excellent. I really appreciate the detail that you are going into.:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
09-25-2006, 05:37 PM
I assume that I would either use the pouncing method if I have a drawing the final size OR I use the gridding method.
Yes. Pouncing would be used if you are working from a drawing that is the same size as the final work (i.e., you are using a cartoon). Gridding would be most appropriate if you are scaling up (or down) from your drawing.

bjs0704
09-25-2006, 05:42 PM
Thanks, David! :)

Barb Solomon:cat:

Granby
09-29-2006, 06:42 AM
Thanks a ton for this workshop:

Two questions: Would it ever be normal for turps or other normally used oil mediums to wash away an ink underdrawing? (I had this happen once: Ink was labelled permanent and water insoluble when dry: never tried again).

Does anyone know a way to extract pigment from crayons? Seriously: they are cheap and come in a wide array of colors. (I live quite far from an art store and am on a limited budget at the moment) I do have acces to cheap watercolors if needed.

Thanks

turlogh
09-29-2006, 08:38 AM
Two questions: Would it ever be normal for turps or other normally used oil mediums to wash away an ink underdrawing? (I had this happen once: Ink was labelled permanent and water insoluble when dry: never tried again).
It is certainly possible, depending on the ink. A good-quality India ink is bound with shellac, which is soluble in alcohol but not in turps or other solvents normally used in oil painting. In the Renaissance, they commonly used oak gall ink or egg tempera paint, neither of which will be dissolved by oil painting materials.

Does anyone know a way to extract pigment from crayons? Seriously: they are cheap and come in a wide array of colors. (I live quite far from an art store and am on a limited budget at the moment) I do have acces to cheap watercolors if needed.
I doubt you could make that work. Crayons are bound in wax. You could try to melt the wax or dissolve it with turps or other strong solvents, but I very much doubt you could remove enough of it to get useable pigments.

If you want to try tempera, I'd go with the watercolors.

Granby
09-29-2006, 11:31 AM
Thanks David,
I'll show some sense and use watercolors.

I ran across a fascinating link while briefly researching my crayon theory which you may be interested in. Lots of information on how to make different colors.

http://www.mspong.org/cyclopedia/paints.html

Sample:

To make a Fine Red Lake.

Boil stick-lac in water, filter the decoction, and evaporate the clear liquor to dryness over a gentle fire. The occasion of this easy separation is, that the beautiful red color here separated adheres only slightly to the outsides of the sticks broken off the trees along with the gum-lac, and readily communicates itself to boiling water. Some of this sticking matter also adhering to the gum itself, it is proper to boil the whole together; for the gum does not at all prejudice the color, nor dissolve in boiling water; so that after this operation the gum is as fit for making sealing-wax as before, and for all other uses which do not require its color.

Anita Murphy
09-29-2006, 02:32 PM
I've been lurking in this thread in the hope that my art materials will arrive in time for me to join this workshop - so far they haven't.

So just in case I never get reunited with my art materials I wanted to say ........Great workshop!!! Thank you so much David for doing this for us!

turlogh
09-29-2006, 06:08 PM
I ran across a fascinating link while briefly researching my crayon theory which you may be interested in.
Thanks. I hadn't seen that one before.

DLJohnson
10-10-2006, 10:47 AM
:wave: Following with interest. Do we get to see the under-drawing now?

Donna

bjs0704
10-10-2006, 12:16 PM
I bought some realgesso panels for this project. Here's what I've been drawing out:

It's by Raphael and is called "Angel (fragment of the Baronci Altarpiece)" painted in 1500-01. I've cropped the image to fit my 5" x 7" panel.

Is anyone else trying this project? What are you going to do?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Oct-2006/11410-Raphael-angel1.gif

Barb Solomon:cat:

artbyjune
10-10-2006, 02:25 PM
That's a beautiful angel, Barb.

I've not been able to get the real rabbit skin glue or gypsum so far, but I prepared a small hardboard panel (6 by 12 ins)with cotton cloth and ordinary acrylic gesso. It was a piece of board I had lying around. I have located a local supplier of hardboard so I will see if I can get more panels if I like the surface, and I will try one more local art shop for the glue. if I can't get it, I will order online.

But i'm interested to try out an image on my prepared cloth/hardboard panel. It feels rather nice...even if just acrylic gesso. I have no idea what to paint as an image. Its such an odd size of panel...maybe a landscape. Have to think about that!!

bjs0704
10-10-2006, 03:06 PM
June - I love the drapery in Raphael’s painting. He also paints the most beautful faces!

I cropped my image using illustrator. I created a “window” that blocked out everything in the image except for the area that I’m painting. By making the window the same size as my finished piece and shrinking it proportionally, I have a fairly good idea what I’m going to be doing.

Before I got my computers, I would cut holes in cardstock to create “windows”. I would be careful to keep these in proportion to the final painting. I might create a 3” by 4” window for an 18” x 24” painting. Look around. There may be some renaissance paintings of people in landscapes that could be fun. Your own landscape is a good idea too.

BTW, I had to buy most of the things online. I knew that the stores around me wouldn't have these materials! :D

Good luck finding things! If you can't find the things, it may be better to just go ahead and work in regular oils. (What do you think, David? :) )

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
10-10-2006, 07:47 PM
I bought some realgesso panels for this project. Here's what I've been drawing out:

It's by Raphael and is called "Angel (fragment of the Baronci Altarpiece)" painted in 1500-01. I've cropped the image to fit my 5" x 7" panel.
This is a beautiful painting by Raphael. In case you're interested in Raphael's usual technique, let me skip ahead. He painted in oil (and fresco). He primed his gesso panels with a layer of lead white toned with a little lead tin yellow. He would prepare a detailed cartoon on paper, then prick the lines of the paper with many tiny holes. He'd draw a vertical line down the center of his panel and the cartoon for alignment. Then he'd pounce with charcoal. The easiest way to do this is to fill hankerchief-sized wad of fine cloth with charcoal powder.
Then rub the pounce bag on the suface of the drawing as it sits over the surface of the panel. Then fill in the lines with a charcoal pencil, after which you go over the lines in ink.

Of course, if you want to do this in tempera instead, that's just fine. Skip the oil priming in that case.

turlogh
10-10-2006, 07:50 PM
I've not been able to get the real rabbit skin glue or gypsum so far If you can't get glue, you should be able to find unflavored gelatin at a market. That would do.

In Europe, you can get any of the materials I've discussed from Kremer. (http://www.kremer-pigmente.de/)

turlogh
10-10-2006, 08:03 PM
Sorry about the hiatus. Life intervened. I had intended to let some time go by for those who are following along to get materials, but I had not planned on it being quite this long.

So the last time I taught a class on egg tempera, the feedback I got from students was that it would help if I had a demonstration piece ready to show the different stages involved. So that's what I am working on. This is a 12 x 16" hardboard panel that I've prepared with gesso. I have selected three figures from different paintings by Fra Angelico. The plan is that the first figure will be left inked only, the second will show the underpainting, and the third will be complete. I thought this would be a very good introductory project. Any image you like that includes figures could be used for this.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Oct-2006/25315-tempera_demo.jpg

So far, I've done some initial studies on paper (in graphite, which they didn't have) then did a freehand drawing on the panel of the three figures in charcoal. The focus is on placing the lines correctly, not on detail. The advantage to charcoal is that you can work out the composition and make changes, which can be erased. Once I get to ink, there won't be any erasing.

This is generally a typical process for Italian underdrawing.

bjs0704
10-10-2006, 11:06 PM
Hmm, I’ll give Raphael's method a try. It’s good that I got more than one panel. It let’s me try a couple different paintings using the various methods.

I’ve got the pigments, but no muller or anything yet. Would a thin layer of lead white (Cremnitz white) and Williamsburg Naples Yellow (the pre-made) be good? I ordinarily start this sort of painting with a yellow toned turp wash. (Naples would do, though I’ve usually used Raw Sienna.) So, how far away would Raphael’s method have been? Would he have used anything to thin the initial coat, since he didn’t use turp?

This workshop is worth the wait and it does take a while to do each of the steps!

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
10-11-2006, 07:13 AM
I’ve got the pigments, but no muller or anything yet. Would a thin layer of lead white (Cremnitz white) and Williamsburg Naples Yellow (the pre-made) be good?
That would work just fine. Naples yellow (lead antimonate) is pretty close in hue and chroma to gallorino (lead tin yellow); it's just a little darker. Use just a tiny bit of the yellow.

Here's an article on Raphael's early painting technique (http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/PDFs/TB25.pdf)(it's a PDF):

I ordinarily start this sort of painting with a yellow toned turp wash. (Naples would do, though I’ve usually used Raw Sienna.) So, how far away would Raphael’s method have been? Would he have used anything to thin the initial coat, since he didn’t use turp?
He probably would have just had his assistant mull the paint to make it a little more fluid. Hand made paint is naturally less stiff than the stuff you get in tubes. If you need to thin it down a little to make it more like the consistency of hand-mulled paint, that would be very reasonable. I'd probably add a little turps and a very small amount of oil (walnut if you have it).

bjs0704
10-11-2006, 10:13 AM
Thanks, David! I've got the canvas toned with Naples yellow!

I'll get started on the drawings!:thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

Granby
10-11-2006, 01:21 PM
David,
I'm following along if not posting much: appreciate everything greatly.

I love ink for some obscure reason: and ran across this interesting site if anyone is interested in making their own.

http://www.clt.astate.edu/elind/oldinkrecipes.htm

Also one question: I found some obscure references to urea being in demand as a drying agent for oil paints in the middle ages. I've tried my hardest but can't find any useful information about this. Would you happen to know anything about it or be able to point me to a link for further investigation? Thanks

Interesting Greek Epithet I stumbled upon recently (probably only to me):
Aesopus - "How might one escape thee, O life, without dying?"

turlogh
10-11-2006, 03:32 PM
I love ink for some obscure reason: and ran across this interesting site if anyone is interested in making their own.

http://www.clt.astate.edu/elind/oldinkrecipes.htm
Thanks for the link. "The Craft of Old Master Drawings," by James Watrous gives lots of information on making ink, in case you are interested.

[quote[Also one question: I found some obscure references to urea being in demand as a drying agent for oil paints in the middle ages. I've tried my hardest but can't find any useful information about this. Would you happen to know anything about it or be able to point me to a link for further investigation?[/QUOTE]
Sorry, but that's a new one on me.

Lots of wierd substances were used in Medieval and Renaissance painting. Ear wax (yes, ear wax) was used to adjust the consistency of glair paint used in illuminated manuscripts. Glair is made by beating egg white until frothy, letting it sit for a few hours, and pouring off the liquid, which is then mixed with pigment to make paint for work on parchment in hand-decorated books.

artbyjune
10-16-2006, 01:34 AM
Hi david,
I'm going to do a Raphael image too!
I just downloaded the PDF technical bulletin...looks like a lot of interesting reading.

I'll do one of the standing figures (the woman on the right) from the Knights dream allegory...as its long and skinny... and so will fit onto my 6 by 12 ins panel. I'll be doing it in oils. I'm saving this week to get on with this project...Now to tone the panel and get a start on the drawing.

I'll be keeping you company, Barb...with my Raphael!!

PS. I found that a supplier in UK (online) that I use fairly regularly has the traditional supplies, e.g., Rabbit skin glue. Is whiting the same as gypsum?? I'll order proper supplies for my next effort. Hope that's OK with you.

turlogh
10-16-2006, 09:50 AM
I'll do one of the standing figures (the woman on the right) from the Knights dream allegory...as its long and skinny... and so will fit onto my 6 by 12 ins panel. I'll be doing it in oils. I'm saving this week to get on with this project...Now to tone the panel and get a start on the drawing.
I did a copy of Knight's Dream last year, in tempera and oil. It's a very small painting; only about 7" x 7".

I cheated on the drawing by printing out a copy of Raphael's original cartoon and pricking it for transfer. You might want to consider doing that.

PS. I found that a supplier in UK (online) that I use fairly regularly has the traditional supplies, e.g., Rabbit skin glue. Is whiting the same as gypsum?? I'll order proper supplies for my next effort. Hope that's OK with you.
Whiting is calcium carbonate (chalk, marble dust). Gypsum is calcium sulfate. While the Italians were using calcium sulfate to make their painting grounds, the Northern Europeans were using calcium carbonate.

artbyjune
10-16-2006, 11:44 AM
Thanks for clarifying the difference (Gypsum vs whiting), David.

My panel needs a bit of sandpapering to smooth it off (and another topcoat). I'll prime with Naples yellow. Then I will do the drawing. I have saved a copy of the original drawing by Raphael and so I'll print it out as well as the colour version.

I was amazed this work by Raphael was so small. Mine's will be a big version by comparison!!

I also had a look at your version in your gallery. It looks wonderful, especially the blue colours. Why did you choose this painting to copy?

I am excited to be at the beginning of attempting a copy of Raphael like this.

bjs0704
10-16-2006, 04:31 PM
June -The knight’s dream allegory is another really beautiful painting!

I’m glad to hear that you found a supplier.




It’s good to see other Raphael fans out there!

Raphael must have used amazingly tiny brushes. I copied his painting of the 3 graces a couple of years ago. I did my painting almost twice the original size and still had quite a bit of work that used 3x0 brushes to get the detail.

When I get my drawing done and ready to transfer, I'm going to post the drawing. I may make a tracing for transfering the drawing to panel, so I can keep the drawing in good shape for my notes.

Barb:cat:

turlogh
10-16-2006, 10:33 PM
My panel needs a bit of sandpapering to smooth it off (and another topcoat). I'll prime with Naples yellow.
To get the same priming as Raphael used, prime it with white to which just a touch of Naples yellow has been added. It should be basically white with a yellowish tone.

I also had a look at your version in your gallery. It looks wonderful, especially the blue colours. Why did you choose this painting to copy?
Because I like that one, and because I thought doing a miniature would be fun.

Nickel
10-17-2006, 04:22 PM
Hi David, just wanted to say I am planning to do a Botticelli study.
Haven't decide which one yet for sure because they all are beautiful.
Any tips?

bjs0704
10-17-2006, 05:44 PM
Nickel - I'm glad that you're joining in! Botticelli would be a great choice!

Barb:cat:

Nickel
10-17-2006, 08:33 PM
I know I've been wanting to do this one. This is the one.
Anybody want to do this one with me?
Would be cool to have company.:thumbsup:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Oct-2006/39040-botticelliciudad_de_la_pintura.jpg

What do you think David? Will this work?
:wave:
Nickel

turlogh
10-17-2006, 08:55 PM
What do you think David? Will this work?

Of course that would work. Botticelli seems to have done much of his early work in egg tempera and tempera grassa, and his later work in oil. What medium were you thinking of for this one? I can help with any of those.

Nickel
10-17-2006, 09:59 PM
Hi David, thanks, I was thinking about using egg tempera and
maybe oils. This is a first for me with egg tempera, so I am
taking baby steps.
These, Sennelier Artists Egg Tempera ,
http://www.dickblick.com/zz000/28/ would be what I would buy.
I'm not set up to make paint. And to tell the truth, I would not
know if I had it made right or not, so I'll lay my bet on a pre-made
paint right now. I am going to go see if I can find out
what medium Botticelli used on this painting if I can figure out
how to translate what I'm reading. :) lol, that's another story.

bjs0704
10-17-2006, 10:58 PM
That's a really pretty nativity, Nickel! Great choice! I love the cow and donkey!

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
10-18-2006, 07:10 AM
These, Sennelier Artists Egg Tempera ,
http://www.dickblick.com/zz000/28/ would be what I would buy.
I'm not set up to make paint. And to tell the truth, I would not
know if I had it made right or not, so I'll lay my bet on a pre-made
paint right now. I am going to go see if I can find out
what medium Botticelli used on this painting if I can figure out
how to translate what I'm reading. The egg tempera you buy in tubes is really a kind of egg-oil emulsion (real egg tempera would spoil in a tube rapidly). Botticelli did use a kind of emulsion for some of his paintings, so this isn't too far off.

Making tempera is really very easy, however. It's not at all hard to make it correctly.

Nickel
10-18-2006, 12:19 PM
lol, I sound like a scaredy-cat in making paint.....lol. yes I am. :)
Don't I need a muller?
Don't have a muller. ;(

Nickel
10-18-2006, 12:21 PM
Oh, this painting is a fresco at Santa Maria Novella, Florence.

Ok, I know this is a silly question, but do cows sit?
I've seen then lay or stand. This cow looks like it is sitting down.

turlogh
10-18-2006, 12:47 PM
lol, I sound like a scaredy-cat in making paint.....lol. yes I am. :)
Don't I need a muller?(Not for making egg tempera or tempera grassa (unless you are grinding your own pigment from rocks instead of purchasing machine-ground powdered pigment). A muller and slab are very helpful for making oil paint.

bjs0704
10-18-2006, 01:03 PM
Thanks, for clarifying that David! It's encouraging for those who are just beginning to try this sort of painting!

Barb Solomon:cat:

Nickel
10-23-2006, 12:34 PM
David, so far, it seems, I'll be using oils here.
Hope that's ok.
As your workshop progresses, I'll start something else
along the way in tempera. I really can't wait, but want to
learn and watch.
So hanging around learning. Thanks for the workshop!
Nickel

artbyjune
10-28-2006, 05:32 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2006/11473-myknightcart1wc2.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2006/11473-knghtsdrmwc1.jpg

Here's what I've been doing with Knights Dream by Raphael whilst waiting for the panel to dry. (Its not drying...I must have prepared it wrongly. I am going to prepare another panel next week).

My cartoon for the 'knight' is a traced copy from a print out, 17 cms square, on painting paper. I'm doing it as a 'quickie' to get a feel for the colours etc.
I did it in charcoal and then went over it in yellow ochre (oils)to get the line drawing.

the 'grisaille' is also in yellow. Don't know if there's a special term for a tonal drawing in yellow??

I think I will now go onto the colour stage (oils). I could do a more detailed tonal stage but its for practise only so maybe onto colour is OK?

Any comments??:confused:

bjs0704
10-28-2006, 10:44 PM
June - That is such a lovely Raphael! Everything looks great! I love how this grisaille is looking!

I don’t know what David is going to say about what we should do next!

Keep up the good work! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

artbyjune
10-29-2006, 10:41 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Oct-2006/11473-KDc2wc1.jpg

Sorry about the poor photo quality everyone.

I managed to put a little colour on the grisaille today. It was extremely enjoyable but exhausting too...I had to use such small brushes and concentrate hard.

I am keeping the colour pale at this stage as the glazings will darken the colours at later stages.

I sent off for my glue and whiting which will come at the end of the week. So looking forward to that.

Also, after the Raphael in oils, I'd like to try my hand at tempera. Is there an easy way to mix tempera to try it out before launching into dry pigments and so on? I believe you can mix egg yolk with watercolours. Would that be OK for starters?

Who else is going to try tempera?

artbyjune
10-29-2006, 10:43 AM
BTW. I've only put on blue, red and a little green.

Using ultramarine, vermillion, alizarin and yellow ochre, oh and a bit of sap green to enliven the ochre/blue mix.

Probably not strict Italian Renaissance but its just to get me started.

bjs0704
10-29-2006, 09:13 PM
Hi June,

I'm not sure what should be the traditional procedure, but I love how your painting is looking!

We are going to have to find out from David!

Barb:cat:

turlogh
10-30-2006, 07:49 PM
Also, after the Raphael in oils, I'd like to try my hand at tempera. Is there an easy way to mix tempera to try it out before launching into dry pigments and so on? I believe you can mix egg yolk with watercolours. Would that be OK for starters?
This is lovely.

You can make a version of egg tempera by mixing watercolor with egg yolk (something like 50/50).

artbyjune
10-31-2006, 09:33 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Oct-2006/11473-KDc3wc1.jpg

I got the rest of the colours on for the first layer. It was a case of perseverence. It takes lots of concentration, I find. I won't get back to it to do the next layer til Sunday probably.

I'll finish this off with a few layers of glazing, before I try to do a tempera.:wave:

bjs0704
10-31-2006, 08:13 PM
I've finally got it. It took me a while, but, I've just finished drawing out my Raphael.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Oct-2006/11410-raphael_man_a.jpg

I'll have the panel ready tomorrow!

Ok, David! What's the next step?!!!!:evil: :evil:

Barb Solomon:cat:

bjs0704
10-31-2006, 09:59 PM
Hi June,

Your painting is looking lovely with the color. It’s almost magical!

You are really doing a great job!

Barb:cat:

Nickel
10-31-2006, 10:17 PM
Nice work Ladies.

artbyjune
11-01-2006, 02:09 AM
Hi Barb, Lovely drawing. I see you used squaring up. I'm looking forward to seeing your colour going on!!!

bjs0704
11-01-2006, 02:45 PM
Thanks so much, June! I'm looking forward to getting the drawing on my panel so that I can add the color! :)

David - What's the next step that I should take? After transfering the drawing, of course!:angel:

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
11-01-2006, 07:51 PM
David - What's the next step that I should take? After transfering the drawing, of course!
This is great. The next step would be to transfer with charcoal, then reinforce the underdrawing in ink.

bjs0704
11-01-2006, 11:12 PM
Thanks, David! I'll have my panel ready soon!

Barb Solomon:cat:

turlogh
11-05-2006, 08:18 PM
“It is a good plan for the student of old paintings, medieval or other, to school himself to discount the effects of age upon the colors; for otherwise he may fall into the disastrous error of supposing that people used to paint antiques.”

—Daniel V. Thompson

Many artists seem to think of paint as coming from the art store, complete, without considering what it is or how it is made. That attitude is serves well enough if you are using modern painting methods, but to understand period painting it is best to acquire a more thorough understanding of materials. At the most basic level, paint is a mixture of two substances: (1) a colored powder (pigment); and (2) a clear adhesive liquid (the binder) that will stick the pigment to the painting surface. All kinds of paint use the same pigments (with a few exceptions due to incompatible chemistry); it’s the binder that defines what kind of paint it is. If you learn to understand and manipulate paint formulations, you gain much greater control over the working properties of your materials. In later sections, we will review how to make paint using different binders. First, however, we need to discuss pigment.

A few caveats: (1) My purpose here is not to list all pigments used in period, but rather to discuss those commonly used for easel painting, as well as acceptable modern substitutes for colors that are harmful, expensive, or difficult to find; (2) Pigment use and availability varied with time period, artist, patron, and location, so it is helpful to research pigments used for specific kinds of work; and (3) Period painters often used pigments that are not now considered permanent—I will not discuss that issue in detail here other than to note how specific pigments may look different now than when the paintings were first made.

Blues

Ultramarine: In period, this was ground and purified lapis lazuli, imported from Afghanistan. The modern alternative is artificial ultramarine, which is inexpensive and chemically identical to the natural color. Although artificial ultramarine is cheap, when you plan a painting think of it as precious, as the real stuff was then. There were different grades of ultramarine, depending on purity, with the finest and most expensive being brighter, stronger, and slightly more violet. Period painting contracts often specified which areas would be done in ultramarine and which in gold leaf, with no mention of other colors. Ultramarine pigment is a little difficult to work with; when dispersed in water, it hardens and must be dug out of the jar with a palette knife. Ultramarine is semi-transparent and can be used for glazing,

Azurite: This is a bright blue, greener, lighter, and more opaque than ultramarine. Azurite was the other expensive blue in period, although cheaper than ultramarine. Pure azurite is still very costly. Blue bice (verditer) is similar and cheaper, but still not inexpensive. Azurite can have many shades depending on impurities, but a good modern substitute is cobalt blue.

Indigo: Indigo was a relatively inexpensive blue in period, usually made from the woad plant. It is transparent and has strong tinting strength, but is rather dark and dull. Sometimes, money would be saved by painting ultramarine thinly over a layer of cheaper blue, such as indigo. Indigo powder is almost weightless and goes everywhere if you are not careful. It can also strike through multiple layers of paint, disrupting mixtures or smearing varnish. If you wish to approximate the look of indigo, mix Prussian blue with black. In looking at historical paintings, note that indigo has sometimes faded, especially where it has been mixed with lead white or used thinly.

Yellows

Lead tin yellow: This was the basic pale opaque yellow, called giallolino or gallorino by the Italians, and a very common yellow pigment for painting. Some sources equate lead tin yellow with Naples yellow, but this is incorrect. There were two variants of lead tin yellow: the brighter type II was used in the 14th century and earlier, while the slightly duller type I was most common after that. Since it contains lead, this color can be hazardous in powder form. To simulate, mix yellow or golden ochre with a brighter opaque yellow such as bismuth yellow or cadmium yellow light.

Yellow lake: There were a variety of yellow lakes, made from organic dyes such as weld or buckthorn. In general, they are transparent, somewhat cool, and very susceptible to fading over time. A reasonable substitute is azo/hansa yellow. They were most commonly used for glazing.

Reds

Vermillion: This is an opaque orange-red, often used in drapery and flesh tones. It's natural form, cinnabar, was used before the cheaper synthetic vermillion came into common use in the middle of the 14th century. When looking at period paintings, you should know that over centuries vermillion can fade to a dark purplish grey. Vermillion—mercury sulfide—is quite toxic and must be used with extreme care in powder form. There is a cadmium color called cadmium vermillion (aka cadmium orange deep) that simulates actual vermillion reasonably well, although it is duller when mixed with white. While they are not so hazardous as vermillion, you should also be careful with cadmium pigments. If you wish to simulate vermillion without such concerns, you can use azo red or irgazine orange, both of which provide a similar color but are not nearly so opaque.

Red lake: These were organic dyes made into pigment by precipitating them onto a transparent substrate such as alum. Red lakes were transparent and rather purplish. A reasonable modern substitute is alizarin crimson or madder lake.

Greens

Verdigris (“Greek green”) was often used for blue-green glazes, sometimes mixed with a resin in a mixture called copper green. The use of this color is rather complicated. An alternative is to use viridian oil paint, which is not period but has a similar tone and is much easier to work with.

Monochromes

Black: Vine black was very common. Lamp black (soot) and bone black (charred bones; often called ivory black by modern suppliers) were also used. Mars black is not period and should be avoided because of its warm undertone, which is very unlike period blacks.

White: In period, this was almost always lead white (biacca, ceruse). If you don't want to work with lead, a good substitute is a mixture of equal parts titanium and zinc white (pure titanium white is chalky in mixtures, while pure zinc white is too transparent; a blend is much better than either for most purposes). Note that period paintings are sometimes affected by the tendency of lead white to become more transparent over time, often allowing ghostly images of corrections from lower layers of paint—called pentimenti (“repentances”)—to become visible.

Earth colors

These tend to be inexpensive since they are, well, dirt. There are many kinds available and I'm sure each painter in period had his or her particular favorites. You can choose from various raw and burnt siennas, red ochres, yellow ochres, green earths, and others. Brighter earth colors were usually preferred. Umbers were not used much until the 16th century, when their property of drying rapidly in oil was taken advantage of.

Mixed colors

It was common to mix a medium green from yellow and blue (for duller greens you can use green earth). Mix your violets from red and blue and your oranges from yellow and red (you can also use orange lead, or substitute cadmium orange).

Additional colors

To expand on the colors listed above, consider malachite (a light blue-green), red lead (minium, an opaque orange-red that can be simulated with a mixture of cadmium red and cadmium orange), or smalt blue (ground cobalt glass—a cheap blue that was common after 1500). Although they are available, I recommend that you avoid orpiment (yellow) and realgar (orange) since even in period they were known to be very toxic and were only rarely used in easel painting (except in 16th century Venice, where they were both common).

Preparing pigments

I discussed purchasing dry powdered pigments earlier in this series (if you aren't working with dry pigments, you can skip the rest of this section). In a Renaissance workshop, pigments would be acquired in raw or minimally ground form. Assistants would have to grind them into a fine powder with a muller on a stone tablet. Fortunately, the pigments you can purchase today are usually very finely ground (saving your workshop staff quite a lot of effort). If you will be making your pigments into oil paint, you need go no further unless your pigment is too coarse, in which case it is appropriate to grind it in water or denatured alcohol and allow the liquid to evaporate.

I strongly recommend using a dust mask when working with all pigments in powder form (you only ever get one set of lungs). Do all of your work in a clean area away from children and pets. Clean up afterwards with wet paper towels and a vacuum cleaner. While it is reasonable to avoid metallic pigments such as lead white, vermillion, and cadmium colors, note that they are actually easier to work with than other powders, since they are dense and therefore less likely to be blown off your working surface.

If you will be making egg tempera or tempera grassa paint, then it’s best to disperse the pigments with water in advance (of course, if you purchased pre-dispersed color concentrates, that has already been done for you). You can then keep the pigment paste in small jars until you are ready to paint. Keep the pigment in each jar covered in water and check your jars every week or two to make sure they don’t dry out. I use 2-ounce glass jars with plastic caps. You can recycle small glass bottles such as baby food jars, but boil them for 30 minutes before use to kill any bacteria that might grow on the pigment. It is also best to use distilled water (which you can get from any pharmacy) whenever working with pigment.

There are two schools of thought on how to disperse pigments in water. The easy way is to fill a small glass jar a bit less than half way with pigment, add enough water to cover the powdered pigment, and then shake vigorously until the pigment and water are fully mixed. This method is easy and limits your exposure to pigment dust.

The second school of thought requires that the pigments be ground with a muller, on the theory that the particles must be ground to an even size and that pigment and water cannot be mixed (dis-persed) thoroughly enough using the first method. Grinding is time-consuming, but very much like what period workshop assistants did with pigments. For this task, you will need a glass muller (2–4" across) and a slab of glass or marble 10–20" across. If they don’t come that way already, glass surfaces will need to be frosted in order to create a rough grinding surface; you can do this with carbonundrum powder (which you can get from www.sinopia.com) and water using the pigment grinding method described below. If you do a lot of grinding, repeat this process whenever the grinding surfaces seem to be wearing down and becoming smooth again.

To grind, make a smooth paste by mixing a small amount of pigment with water (don’t worry about proportions; any workable mixture is OK). Then grind the pigment by moving the muller over the paste in a smooth circular motion, making sure that every bit of it is ground. You don’t need to use a lot of pressure. Use a palette knife frequently to remove built up pigment from the edges of your grinding tool and put it back into the mix. In five or ten minutes, the mixture will feel smoother than when you started. (If you are grinding smalt, malachite, lead tin yellow, or azurite, you should avoid excessive grinding, since if the particles are too small the color will be less intense.) Using a palette knife, scoop the ground pigment paste into a jar. Repeat until the jar is two-thirds full and then add more water. Clean all of your tools thoroughly before moving on to the next pigment; you don’t want any accidental mixing. Vegetable oil is good for getting cleaning off pigments that are difficult to wash off with soap and water.

So can you use the easy method or do you have to do all of that grinding? I started as a purist by grinding all of my pigments and found it to be an excellent character-building exercise. I later found that, despite theories to the contrary, just mixing with water seems to work for most pigments that come finely ground already. Many modern tempera painters seem to do likewise. A few pigments are a little coarse when purchased and work better if you grind them. Some pigments will only display their fullest color when ground. You may want to get a muller and slab so you can experiment for yourself. On the other hand, mullers are expensive and grinding pigment is laborious. You can certainly get by without grinding, although your colors may sometimes be a little gritty or a little dull and your paint-preparation experience will less authentic. If you will be making your own oil paint, a muller is very useful and is recommended.

turlogh
11-05-2006, 08:26 PM
Egg tempera was used in ancient times and was the standard medium for easel painting in Western Europe during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It was very common in the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Europe, and Russia and is still used for making religious icons. In Western Europe, during the 15th and early 16th centuries, egg tempera was gradually superseded by oil painting. We are very fortunate to have a treatise on painting, written in the late 14th century, by the Italian artist Cennino Cennini, which describes egg tempera techniques, among other methods, in detail. Thompson’s translation of this book—Il Libro dell' Arte—is an invaluable resource.

Making egg tempera paint

The binder for egg tempera is the yolk of hen’s eggs. If you’ve ever tried to clean dried egg yolk from a plate, you know how tough and durable it is; old egg tempera paintings are often in better condition than oil paintings of the same age. Get the freshest eggs you can find (local farm eggs are best, but regular supermarket eggs will do). Check expiration dates and never use an egg you wouldn’t eat.

There are a few ways to separate the yolk. Here’s how I do it: place some paper towels, a small sharp knife, and a clean glass jar next to a sink, then take an egg and break it, pouring the yolk into one hand (yes, this is messy). Pass the yolk back and forth from one hand to the other, letting the white fall away between your fingers. As you do this, alternate wiping your hands on the paper towels until all of the white has been removed from the yolk and the skin is dry. Pierce the skin of the yolk with the knife and pour it into the jar while holding the skin so that it doesn’t go in. Mix about a teaspoonful of distilled water with the yolk (you can use a little more or less, depending on your preference and how thick the yolk is).

This is your egg medium. It will keep for about 3–4 days in the refrigerator. If you can smell it, throw it away and clean the jar thoroughly to prevent bacteria from contaminating the next batch. Two or three drops of clove oil or wine vinegar can be added as a preservative if you wish. Period recipes suggest mixing egg tempera medium with fig leaf cuttings or fig tree sap (which contains latex), but the purpose this might have served is unclear and this is not something I’ve tried.

For painting with egg tempera, I like to use a plastic or ceramic watercolor palette divided into wells. Use a palette knife to scoop some of each pigment you will be using today onto the palette (I assume you have already mixed your pigments with water into a paste as described earlier). To make paint, mix about one part egg medium with one part pigment paste (an eyedropper is an excellent tool for adding medium, but be sure to wash it with a pipe cleaner or cotton swab at the end of each session) and mix them thoroughly. The propor-tions don’t have to be absolutely exact; you will soon get a sense of how much binder to mix in. Paint made with too much binder is oily, sticky, and dries slowly. Paint made with too little binder will, after drying, feel rough or powdery. When in doubt, it’s better to have a bit too much egg than too little. If you find you have painted with too little egg, you can correct this when the paint has dried by overpainting with a thin layer of pure egg medium.

With a little practice, you will quickly get the hang of making the paint. You can thin egg tempera paint as much as you like with distilled water—the critical ratio is that of pigment to binder. While you are working, make paint with only the colors that you will need for the task at hand; otherwise, most of your paint will dry on the palette before you use it. Make additional paint when needed. During a painting session, moisten your paint with water periodically to keep it from drying out—a small spray mister is best for this. You’ll need to throw away any unused or dried paint, since it will not keep. Unused pigment (unmixed with egg medium) can be used again.

turlogh
11-05-2006, 08:32 PM
The most useful brushes for egg tempera are round watercolor brushes. The best are kolinsky sable, but there are some decent synthetics available as well. A good brush this purpose has a thick “belly” to hold paint and tapers to a fine point. Buy good brushes in sizes ranging from 00 to 5 or 6. It’s better to have one or two good brushes than many cheap ones. Take good care of them and never let egg tempera dry on the brush (wash after painting with soap and warm water). A larger bristle brush can be useful for applying the initial broad color areas, but you will do most of your work with fairly small brushes, particularly for detail and for finely developed gradations.

Start with a larger brush and switch to smaller ones as you develop fine detail. Dip the brush in paint, making sure the egg and pigment are well mixed, and wipe it on the side of the palette well. Applied thinly, egg tempera is as transparent as watercolor, while thicker applications are semi-opaque (opacity will also vary somewhat depending on the pigment). Avoid very thick (impasto) applications or the paint will crack. To achieve even tones, paint thinly (i.e., with dilute paint and a brush that is not heavily loaded), in multiple layers.

When I have taught people to use egg tempera, most students start out using too much paint. Initially, it is best to consciously use less paint on the brush than you are comfortable with. Don’t try to blend paint on the surface; let it dry before you paint over it. If you paint over an area that is not yet fully dry, you will pull up pigment, digging a hole. If this happens (and it happens to everyone), stop working that area or you will just make the hole bigger. Wait several minutes for all of the paint to dry and then paint over it until the hole is corrected. A hair dryer can be used to speed drying, but don’t let the surface get too warm or you will cook the yolk, weakening it. In between painting sessions, placing the painting in a sunny room for several hours will harden the paint and improve its water resistance.

Blending and gradations

Since the paint dries quickly and doesn’t re-wet if water is applied to dry paint, you cannot blend egg tempera in the manner of either oil paint or gouache. Instead, you will use an optical blending technique. For a period method, it is important to pre-mix all the colors for a particular gradation (small porcelain cups, jars, or shot glasses are great for this). Don’t mix as you go. For example, imagine that you are painting a blue robe. Make your darkest color from pure blue (with no black, red, or other darkening or neutralizing color). Make enough of this color so that you have plenty. Now make your lightest color with white and a little blue. Again, make sure you have enough. Now make your midtone by mixing approximately equal amounts of the dark and highlight colors. For virtually all gradations, use a pure color for darks and a mixture with white for lights. Note, however, that if your base color is very light, such as yellow, you can’t convincingly use the pure color for darks. In that case, it is appropriate (and period) to use a yellow earth color (e.g., raw sienna, brown ochre, or yellow ochre) for darks, with pure yellow as the mid tone and yellow mixed with white for lights.

Begin a gradation by painting a flat tone for the darks, applying as many layers as needed to achieve sufficient opacity. Now paint the midtones next to the darks and let the paint dry. Where the darks and the midtones meet, use a drybrush hatching technique to create an optical blending effect. Do this by charging a small soft brush with somewhat thinned paint, wiping it on the side of the cup, then wiping much of the remaining paint off on a cloth until the brush is mostly dry. Now you can use the brush almost like a pencil, drawing several fine parallel strokes for each brush load along the form that you are describing, painting with dark into the midtone or vice versa. This method takes practice and can be frustrating at first. Paint in one direction with each stroke, not back and forth. If your strokes each have a little dot at the end, there is too much paint on the brush. Once you have made a series of parallel hatching strokes, you can crosshatch in a different direction if you wish to further model the form, or you can simply lay on multiple parallel layers until the blending is as fine as you wish. The lines can also be curved. Drybrushed paint dries very quickly, so it is possible to rapidly build up many semi-transparent layers. Once you have blended the darks with the midtones, you can do the lights and blend them in the same manner. Medieval egg temperas were often blended with incredibly fine, perfectly even hatching strokes, producing a lovely and subtle effect. On very large paintings, they sometimes applied long (6–8") parallel hatching strokes, which I suspect were done with the help of a straightedge.

The three-tone blending method described above is the one Cennini instructs us to use, but not the only one that can be documented in the Renaissance. Another method was to paint a flat, semi-transparent midtone over the entire area to be blended, then apply the lights and darks on top of that, with hatching as needed for blending. Some artists used just a dark and a light, with extensive cross-hatching to create the midtones. Others sometimes used gradations of four, five, or more tones. It is also possible to depict a gradation from one hue to another, as in an orange-blue sunrise or when depicting shot silk fabric in which the weave requires one color for lights and another for darks.

It is also clear from looking closely at period egg temperas that artists applied paint in many ways. For example, you can find examples in which spattering (random spraying, as in putting paint on a brush and flicking it with a finger) and stippling (making small dots with the tip of a brush) was apparently used to create texture. It seems likely that professional artists developed a variety of flexible and efficient brushwork techniques. I encourage you to look at Renaissance paintings up close and then experiment in your own work.

Flesh tones

A specific multilayered approach was usually used for painting Caucasian (or Asian) flesh tones before 1400 and occasionally after that. Although modern color theory did not yet exist, it made use of the red-green complimentary color pair, optically blending to create neutral midtones. An even tone of green earth mixed with a little white is first laid down on all areas repre-senting flesh. Green earth is a weak, transparent color, so don’t expect it to cover thoroughly. Mix a warm dark greenish grey from black, white, and yellow ochre (sometimes also with red ochre)—this is called verdaccio. Apply the verdaccio to all of the dark and shaded areas of flesh. Next use red (vermillion, red ochre, or red lake) to paint the bright areas (“apples”) of the face, such as cheeks, ears, and nose. Let the paint dry. Now mix this red with white to make a light pink. Work the pink color translucently over all of the flesh tones with a dry brush, hatching as appropriate, to model the forms of the body. Highlights can be modeled with a lighter pink mixed from white and just a touch of red. Details (eyelids, edges of ears, etc.) can be rendered with an earth color mixed with black.

African skin tones, which were of course less common in European painting, appear to have been done in earth colors, such as brown ochre or raw sienna, mixed with black. Modeling can be done with the usual three tones mixed with differing amounts of white.

If you look at egg tempera paintings in museums, you will often notice that the flesh tones are greenish, with reds around the cheeks and nose. This is probably because the lead white overpainting has become more transparent with time, allowing the underpainting to show through. Study of such paintings allows us to have an idea of what the painting should look like before painting in the final flesh tones.

Corrections and finishing

Despite working with small brushes in a detailed manner, you will find that egg tempera painting goes reasonably quickly once you become used to the method. You don’t have to wait hours or days for paint to dry as in oil painting, so you can easily apply 10 or 20 layers in a painting session. One of my favorite properties of egg tempera is its easy reversibility—if you are having trouble with a given passage and want to start over, you can use a flat knife or razor blade to carefully scrape it back down to the gesso. You can do this as many times as you like, without any paint buildup and without damaging the surface of the panel, until you get it right.

Some tempera artists, such as Botticelli, often used outlining to selectively emphasize edges (sometimes allowing parts of the underdrawing to show through). As you bring the painting to a state of finish, outlines can be accen-tuated, using a mixed dark grey or verdaccio. You can also emphasize the lightest lights with touches of pure white.

If, at the beginning of a work session, you find that some previously painted areas are distractingly shiny, you can even out the tone by buffing the dried paint very gently with a piece of cheesecloth or soft, lint-free cloth (such as an old cotton t-shirt). When the painting is done and has dried for a few days, you should repeat this buffing over the whole painting; this will strengthen the surface. Give the painting at least a few days in a sunny room; the actinic light will harden the paint and make it more resistant to water. The egg binder will, over the course of 6–8 months, cure to a hard, water-resistant surface. Until that time it must be protected from moisture (one way to do so is to frame it under glass, but this was not done in period and can encourage mold growth on the paint).

Once the painting has fully cured it was usually varnished (modern egg temperas are often left unvarnished to display the unique sheen that the me-dium imparts, but this does not appear to have been the normal practice in period). I will discuss varnishing later.

If you need to display the painting before it has finished curing, Cennini suggests that you use glair as an initial varnish. This has not worked well for me; I find that the glair tends to crack and flake. This effect can ruin a painting, so if you do use glair, test your method first, leaving it for several days before deciding to apply it to a painting you care about. Another option is to apply a thin layer of hide glue—the same stuff you used to make gesso. Using either a wide soft brush or your hand, spread the warm glue on the surface as evenly as possible.

turlogh
11-06-2006, 07:51 AM
Here is the demonstration piece I'm working on. Actually, my wife Kirsten and I are doing this; she did the ink underdrawing. The smeared section is where I accidentally spilled baby formula on the gesso. Oops. That will disappear when paint is applied over that area. The only paint on this section is the blue robe; the rest is ink.

I have been painting with four premixed tones, starting with pure ultramarine blue and then adding increasing amounts of white. The lightest tones are white with just a bit of blue. This is not a realistic approach to modeling, since it results in darks that are higher in chroma than they would be in real life. It's how Italian tempera painters generally accomplished modeling, however, and the effect can be quite beautiful. I will deliberately leave part of the robe unfinished, since this is a demo piece to use in teaching a tempera class.

I am working with a round sable brush. It's size 6, which seems a little large, but it has the advantage that the brush holds a lot of paint. Since I'm using hatching strokes, that's very helpful. Even with a large brush, you can make very fine strokes with just the tip. The process is to load the brush with paint, wipe it on a cloth, then use it almost like a pencil to make many parallel lines. If the brush is dry enough, the lines are even and they dry almost immediately. If you have too much paint in the brush, the strokes bleed and they each have a small dot on the end. You build up tones, kind of like hatching with a graphite pencil, by applying overlapping sets of parallel hatching strokes. To indicate form, you can make the strokes curved. As the paint builds up to many layers, the hatching disappears and you get very finely graded tonalities.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Nov-2006/25315-angelico_1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Nov-2006/25315-angelico_2.jpg

Whenever I work in tempera, I am struck by how beautiful some colors are in it. Ultramarine is noticeably darker and duller in oil than it is in egg tempera.

Another thing I notice is that I find tempera initially quite frustrating. &*(^&*&*!, I can't get the tones right. $%$%^ I'm painting over wet paint and it's all coming up! ^&*^&*, I have too much paint on the brush!

Then I get into the zone, and it just kind of flows. Tempera seems slow at first, then you suddenly realize how much progress you're making. It's a very different experience than other media.

artbyjune
11-06-2006, 02:36 PM
Hi David, I have still to read your information...which I will do soon. It looks very full and so interesting.

I am happy to say my rabbit skin glue and whiting arrived this morning...so I will prepare a hardboard panel this week, and look for a tempera painting to copy from. I like Botticelli and Giotto, so maybe one from there.

I have left my Raphael study (Knights dream) hanging to dry. I can't get back to it anyway for the time being as I am busy with some animal paintings. But I'll get back to the classical work asap.

artbyjune
11-06-2006, 02:51 PM
A quick question, David. Is the ink under-drawing done with a brush and with ink washes? Rather than with a pen and cross-hatching?

turlogh
11-06-2006, 04:47 PM
A quick question, David. Is the ink under-drawing done with a brush and with ink washes? Rather than with a pen and cross-hatching?
In the Renaissance, most underdrawings were probably done with a quill pen and ink. Some were done with brush and ink; others were done with brush and dark paint. Later on, they sometimes used dry media such as chalk, silverpoint, or lead/tin point.

This one is done with brush and ink. Since it's a demo piece, some parts were done with washes while other parts are cross-hatched.

bjs0704
11-06-2006, 10:58 PM
Thanks for the new additions! They were so interesting to read about! I'm going to have to hurry to catch up with you!

The blue drapery is simply gorgeous! It really seems ethereal!

I appreciate some of the historic notes!

Barb Solomon:cat:

artbyjune
11-09-2006, 03:40 PM
Well I managed to make up the rabbit skin glue mixture and then the whiting for my hardboard panel. It was great fun. I felt like a medieval alchemist. I ran out of mixture so I will have to make up more to put on a few more layers tomorrow. Then I will be ready to do my tempera.

I think I will try a copy of a Botticelli portait in tempera. I'll use watercolours and egg at this stage.

I'm thinking of doing the portrait of a young man 1482. Its rather brown in my book maybe I'll look for a better version on the net. I thought it would be fine to do as it is not too intricate.

Or maybe I'll do a female portrait-1485. That one looks a bit fiddley though.

PS. I am continuing with the oil painting of the Knights dream to take it to a reasonable finish.

turlogh
11-09-2006, 10:17 PM
I'm thinking of doing the portrait of a young man 1482. Its rather brown in my book maybe I'll look for a better version on the net. I thought it would be fine to do as it is not too intricate.

Or maybe I'll do a female portrait-1485. That one looks a bit fiddley though. The Web Gallery of Art (http://www.wga.hu/index1.html) is a great resource for images of Medieval and Renaissance art. Here's their Boticelli page. (http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/b/botticel/index.html)

Some paintings look brown today because they are covered with dark varnish that hasn't been removed and replaced in many years. The folks at the Louvre, for example, are apparently terrified to touch the Mona Lisa, although it is very dull and dark and badly needs to be restored. Sometimes, we need to simply apply our own mental filter to imagine how a painting might have looked when it was new.

Granby
11-10-2006, 09:50 AM
Hello All,
I finally got an underdrawing ready - but I got a little carried away. (red,black, and white chalk). It is based on a study by Annibale Carracci of the Samaritan woman at the well .
Is this too dark already? I know tempera is pretty tansparent and I'm worried that the existing darkness plus the amount of tempera its going to take to cover the drawing will just be way too much.

turlogh
11-10-2006, 10:25 AM
Is this too dark already? I know tempera is pretty tansparent and I'm worried that the existing darkness plus the amount of tempera its going to take to cover the drawing will just be way too much.
Nice drawing. It's not too dark (you can make tempera very opaque by just applying more layers or using more white, and there are ways to make use of a toned underdrawing in the optical structure of a tempera painting), but I am concerned that the chalk might mix with the paint and make it very muddy. That's why chalk underdrawings were not really used before the advent of oil painting. What you might want to do is either (a) brush lightly over the chalk with a tissue to take much of it away without obliterating the structure of the drawing and then go over it with ink; (b) use some sort of spray fixative over the chalk to keep it from mixing with paint; or (c) use this as an underdrawing for oil paint. I've never used fixative in this way and I don't know how tempera would adhere to it. What I would do would be option a, but I can understand why you might not want to undo all the work you've done.

Granby
11-10-2006, 11:02 PM
I went with the fixative method, didn't have the heart to wipe it off or the energy to redraw it. So far so good, no apparent problems at all.

Important tip: if lacking blue pigment, due not substitute blue ink from a fountain pen. Ink + egg yolk = bizaare waxy substance which I just spent 45 minutes scraping off the background with my fingernails. Luckily I never touched my figure with it--whew. Of course, feel free to try it yourself but you've been warned.

artbyjune
11-11-2006, 02:50 PM
David, a quick question. I see you say to use distilled water for tempera. I'll try to get some; but if not, would filtered water be an OK substitute?

Granby, hope you don't mind me asking- what size is your work? Looking forward to seeing it progress along...

turlogh
11-11-2006, 06:42 PM
David, a quick question. I see you say to use distilled water for tempera. I'll try to get some; but if not, would filtered water be an OK substitute?
Distilled water is a good idea if your water contains a lot of minerals. In the U.S. this is referred to as "hard" water. These trace minerals can react with some pigments. In the U.S., you can buy distilled water from almost any pharmacy/chemist shop very inexpensively ($1.00 USD per gallon).

If you can't get distilled water, then filtered water will probably be fine. In most parts of the U.S. the water is pure enough to use with tempera right out of the tap. Using distilled water is a good precaution, but not usually necessary.

artbyjune
11-12-2006, 06:09 AM
Thanks David. I'll try the chemist tomorrow. If no luck, I will use the filtered water as it filters out a lot of the minerals. Also I'll be using watercolours for this first attempt, not dry pigments, so maybe there won't be a problem.

Granby
11-13-2006, 09:27 AM
Hi everyone,
I finished my tempera study this weekend. This work is small (6 x 9 inches), and I had a real hard time managing the density and viscosity of the paint on the brush. I advise not working so small on a first attempt. I'm not sure yet whether I like it or not, and I made up the color as went along (usually a bad sign for me), but it definitely has a striking almost luminescent glow to it which is quite differerent than the oil paintings I've done.

Thanks for all your help, hard work and information David.

bjs0704
11-13-2006, 02:34 PM
Hi Everyone!

I tried poncing and charcoal, as a way of transfering my drawing and just had no luck. The charcoal “blew” throughout the panel and left to indistinct a line for me to draw out. So, I went back to homemade charcoal transfer method (homemade carbon paper style).

Now, I have an outline and I’m ready to do my tempera.

I’m going to read over and check again to see what you are doing. (I’ve been lurking all along anyway. This is such a great thread!). I’ll talk to you in a bit!

Barb Solomon:cat:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Nov-2006/11410-barbsraphaelangel.jpg

bjs0704
11-13-2006, 02:47 PM
Granby - It’s lovely and the colors are quite beautiful. (Anibale Caracci is such a really wonderful painter! What a wonderful choice!)

I know what you mean. I find it quite hard to get colors right when I don’t have a “model” to give me the idea of the lightsource. That affects all the other color decisions!

Your painting really turned out well! The folds in her dress are really lovely!


David - The folds of the drapery in your example are really SO gorgeous! Really lovely!

June - I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next.


Barb Solomon

turlogh
11-13-2006, 04:32 PM
I finished my tempera study this weekend. This work is small (6 x 9 inches), and I had a real hard time managing the density and viscosity of the paint on the brush. I advise not working so small on a first attempt. I'm not sure yet whether I like it or not, and I made up the color as went along (usually a bad sign for me), but it definitely has a striking almost luminescent glow to it which is quite differerent than the oil paintings I've done.
That's an excellent first try at egg tempera—better than most I've seen.

Tempera does require a completely different mindset than other painting media. I like it very much, but it isn't for everyone. In terms of density and viscosity, I think the keys are (1) make sure there isn't too much paint on the brush; (2) remember that, so long as you have the correct ratio of pigment to egg yolk, you can add as much water as you like; and (3) you can control opacity by adjusting how much white you use in a paint mixture.

When I teach tempera in person, the first thing I need to push almost all students to do is use far less paint on their brushes than they are comfortable with. Load the brush lightly, then wipe much of the paint off. When you use a dry brush, it the paint dries almost instantly and you can easily control density by application of as many layers as you like fairly quickly. Most paint mixtures should have some white in them in order to maintain a useful level of opacity.

Later on I'll discuss ways to do mixed media with oil and tempera, which you may find more to your liking.

turlogh
11-13-2006, 05:50 PM
Here is where I am with the demonstration piece I'm working on.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Nov-2006/25315-fra_angelico.jpg

The man's robe is shades of ultramarine mixed with varying degrees of white (my white is a 50/50 mix of titanium and zinc). A small part of the paint on the robe has flaked off where I believe I used a paint mixture with too little yolk and too much pigment. I will correct that later. His hood is alizarin crimson (substituting for a red lake) and white.

With the green in the woman's robe, I am trying to simulate a common period mixture of azurite and lead tin yellow. For azurite, I am substituting cobalt blue. For lead tin yellow (gallorino) I am substituting a mixture of bismuth yellow and yellow ochre. It is then mixed with varying amounts of white and, in a few dark folds, underpainted with black. The yellow of the inside of her robe is a beautiful transparent gold ochre from www.sinopia.com.

The woman's face has been underpainted with Verona green earth, followed by shadows in a verdaccio mixture of black, white, and yellow ochre. Her cheeks, nose, and ears have been painted with a thin layer of red ochre.

Since this is a demo, I am leaving parts unpainted (to show the underdrawing) and others just blocked in.

turlogh
11-13-2006, 05:54 PM
I tried poncing and charcoal, as a way of transfering my drawing and just had no luck. The charcoal “blew” throughout the panel and left to indistinct a line for me to draw out. So, I went back to homemade charcoal transfer method (homemade carbon paper style).

Now, I have an outline and I’m ready to do my tempera.
Sorry you had trouble pouncing. It has worked when I've tried it, putting charcoal dust into an improvised cloth bag and rubbing it over the surface of a drawing I've taped to the panel.

This is a fine underdrawing. You may want to try doing flesh using the green underpainting method commonly used in Italy. It does take some practice to pull it off, however. Don't start with the flesh tones if this is the first time you've used this kind of paint.

Granby
11-13-2006, 10:46 PM
Thanks David and everyone for the kind comments on my effort,

Now that I know better I should have used more water to control the paint better, I kept wanting to use more but part of me thought it was cheating for some reason. Plus it was just a bad idea to try and figure out a new medium, a thick one at that, and struggle with a small brush on a small painting all at the same time. I'll definitely try it again though.

David, I see you seem to be more or less jumping in with the colors you want. I mixed it up, I went with a yellowish underpainting on the whole thing - then put red over it for the orange scarf and blue over it for the green dress. I probably should have taken the more direct route for a first time effort.

Thanks again..

turlogh
11-13-2006, 11:10 PM
David, I see you seem to be more or less jumping in with the colors you want. I mixed it up, I went with a yellowish underpainting on the whole thing - then put red over it for the orange scarf and blue over it for the green dress. I probably should have taken the more direct route for a first time effort.
We know a lot about how Italian tempera painters worked, and that's the model I am trying to follow. They would underpaint specific areas for specific purposes. For example, it was common to underpaint foliage with black before going in with green. As I've noted, there was a standard layering sequence for flesh tones. Michelangelo would underpaint one robe with black, then ultramarine, while painting another with straight ultramarine and have two different clothing colors. Unless they had a particular effect they were looking for, however, they generally didn't bother with layering one color over another. They did not do underpainting in a single tone across a whole painting, because tempera is transparent enough that the white of the gesso panel has a lot to do with the overall value and chroma key of the painting.

Properly used on a pure white surface, tempera colors have a delicacy and clarity that is very hard to match in oil paint. For example, ultramarine is significantly darker and duller in oil than in tempera (a couple of manufacturers sell a "Fra Angelico blue" oil paint which attempts to match the color of tempera ultramarine). Earth pigments have noticeably greater chroma (intensity) in tempera. Paints lose less chroma when mixed with white or black in tempera than in oil—you can ignore the whole impressionist "black is evil" dictum when painting with tempera, and colors mixed with white are less chalky. Those are advantages that an experienced tempera painter can use to good effect. Oil has the advantage of possessing a wider value range (because oil darks are darker than tempera darks) and of course that marvelous blending. But tempera has its own excellent properties.

As for the brush, I often use a fairly big one, like a number 4 or 6 round. A bigger brush holds more paint, so you can draw hatching strokes for a long time before you have to load the brush again. Loew-Corning sells a series of "ultra round" synthetic sables with a very thick belly and a fine point that are excellent for tempera. So long as you can control the point, a large brush is no hindrance because only the tip of the point comes in contact with the painting surface. This takes a little practice.

artbyjune
11-14-2006, 10:53 AM
I still have to go back and read the recent posts folks.:)

But today, I was enthused to get cracking, seeing all of you working so hard!!:thumbsup:

I chose my Botticelli portrait to copy. And as time is a bit precious for me these days, I traced the Botticelli print from my book, applied the charcoal to the back to transfer to my panel. Then I went over the charcoal with India ink line and then a few washes to indicate dark tones.

I won't get back to the exciting egg tempera application stage till the weekend.

artbyjune
11-14-2006, 10:55 AM
She looks a bit grim at this stage. I hope the colour will brighten her up!!

turlogh
11-14-2006, 12:33 PM
I chose my Botticelli portrait to copy. And as time is a bit precious for me these days, I traced the Botticelli print from my book, applied the charcoal to the back to transfer to my panel. Then I went over the charcoal with India ink line and then a few washes to indicate dark tones.

I won't get back to the exciting egg tempera application stage till the weekend.
This is a beautiful underdrawing.

If you are interested in following Botticelli's methods, you might want to note that, in "La Primavera," he underpainted flesh tones in yellow ochre rather than the usual green earth that Italian painters normally used. That's what I did when I did a copy of the "Three Graces" section of that painting, and it worked out very well.

artbyjune
11-15-2006, 12:55 AM
Thanks for that tip, David. At the moment, I'm not sure how to progress with colours...I'll leave decisions until the weekend. First I have to re-read the info you gave us.

artbyjune
11-15-2006, 01:00 AM
Hi Granby, your tempera painting is lovely- especially the robes of the woman. I have also done mines in 5 by 7 ins. I hope it works out OK.

Hi Barb, your drawing is wonderful. I'm looking forward to seeing the colour applications.

Are you all using dry pigments and egg yolk? Anyone using watercolour and egg yolk?

Granby
11-15-2006, 12:37 PM
Hi June,
I used mostly watercolor and egg yolk in mine. Your drawing looks great and I'm sure it will turn out wonderful. Be patient, slow and steady at first, it takes a while to get the hang of it. Even though the painting is small and you will not need much paint, be careful to fully mix your paint and yolk thoroughly so that the texture is consistent. (All of which I wish I would have done). Good luck and can't wait to see it.

bjs0704
11-15-2006, 05:13 PM
Hi David,

I’ve heard that Raphael used a verdaccio underpainting on the figures to get the fleshtones before. What did he use for the rest of the painting? One of the browns?

Thanks!

Barb

turlogh
11-15-2006, 10:03 PM
Hi David,

I’ve heard that Raphael used a verdaccio underpainting on the figures to get the fleshtones before. What did he use for the rest of the painting? One of the browns? He probably would not have used a generalized underpainting across the entire painting. Underpainting wasn't used in the Renaissance the way we think of it today—the underdrawing was what defined the structure of the composition. He would have underpainted specific areas when he wanted particular layering or glazing effects. Over the rest of the painting, working from the backround to the foreground, he would just have worked on the white painting ground in a single layer of paint in the appropriate color. Note that he was for the most part an oil painter, not a tempera painter. I'll talk about Renaissance Italian oil painting methods later in this workshop.

I suggest that you take a look at this article on the technique used in some of his early paintings (http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/PDFs/TB25.pdf) (it's a PDF).

artbyjune
11-19-2006, 01:14 PM
:wink2: Here's where I got to this weekend. Its a very slow process. I started the background so that I could get used to the brush-strokes, etc. Probably won't get back to it until next weekend. I went with the cross-hatching technique. Am I doing it right?

Probably tempera paintings can be done a little bit at a time over a few weeks.

here she is so far:-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Nov-2006/11473-bgtemp2wc1.jpg

turlogh
11-19-2006, 04:10 PM
That looks great. For flat areas of color, it's fine to have a bit more paint on the brush. Opacity is much easier to obtain when paint mixtures have white in them.

bjs0704
11-20-2006, 10:49 AM
Well, I'm still at it! LOL

Here's my initial attempt. I stayed transparent with this coat, but I'm adding a bit of white to the next one.

Barb

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Nov-2006/11410-BarbsRaphael1.jpg

artbyjune
11-20-2006, 12:00 PM
Looking lovely Barb. What size brush did you use? Can you use a flat or chisel-shape?

As for my copy...I'll put white in the next lot of paint...or I'll be here forever trying to get richness using the paint transparently!! I didn't think of that.

I'm looking forward to painting the girl. I'll underpaint the skin in tints of yellow ochre (white tints) and I'll use rather more intense or tube strength hues for her dress so she stands out from the background.

It gives a very different effect from any other paint medium!!

bjs0704
11-20-2006, 04:11 PM
Hi June,

I could, but, I was staying to rounds because David said that they were used in the renaissance. So adding white to make things a little more opaque might be a good way of avoided the brushmark look.

I want to add more to the background before I do much more to the green underpainting for the figure.

When I look at my original the background has something that seems like a red underpainting. It’s alot like the reddish background used under gold leaf. Now, the original was part of a fresco and I am adapting the image for this project.

Barb:cat:

bjs0704
11-20-2006, 04:23 PM
June - I really love how your Botticelli lady is looking! She's very elegant.
It's going to be interesting to see how she looks when you add the yellow underpainting! Keep up the good work!

Barb:cat:

turlogh
11-21-2006, 08:06 PM
I wanted to add some additional info on egg tempera.

First, if you are interested in the medium and want to connect with other tempera artists, there is now a Wetcanvas forum dedicated to egg tempera, cassein, and gouache. There's also another forum run by the Society of Tempera Painters. You can find it at www.eggtempera.com/forum. Although I am specifically discussing tempera painting as it was practiced in the Italian Renaissance, egg tempera is used by many modern artists, for anything from abstract expressionism to photorealism. Andrew Wyeth, who is perhaps the best known American realist painter, paints only in watercolor and egg tempera.

Second, some people seem to think that tempera can only be applied using a cross-hatching technique. That's not the case. In Italian painting, you see areas of flat color with no evidence of hatching. Cross-hatching was used to create graded blends from one color to another. If you just want an area of one color, you can use a brush with a bit more color on it to simply lay the color in. The brush should not be fully loaded with wet color, but it can be much wetter than a drybrush technique. If it goes on in a puddle, you're using too much paint. You may need several layers to get the desired degree of opacity, especially with transparent pigments unmixed with white. If you want a gradation of several tones, you can lay them in next to each other. Once those are the right color, you can use drybrush hatching to paint one tone into another tone, back and forth, until you get an optical blend. This approach is much faster than just crosshatching all tones over a whole painting, which takes forever. Remember, Renaissance artists were professionals, not hobbyists. They worked as efficiently as they could, given the materials they had available and the requirements of the market.

Third, one point that I'll talk about later (we're not nearly done) is that egg tempera is extremely complimentary with oil paint. Throughout the 15th century, many paintings were executed in some combination of egg tempera and oil. While we think of them as two separate media, painters at the time thought of this as a single discipline that involved multiple binding materials.

artbyjune
11-22-2006, 11:42 AM
David, Thank goodness I don't have to cross-hatch everything!! My poor eyes can't stand such close work these days. And I would like to work faster, and with less detail. Saying that, the cross-hatch effect is quite nice I think. I'll practice with flat areas/strokes before I tackle the dress and face...

BTW, can you use tempera on watercolour paper without the gesso? or on ivorex paper? Don't know if you know this one, David, its a bit like thin illustration board I think.

So looking forward to your update, barb!!

It will be interesting to go and look at modern egg tempera work on the net. I think I saw an exhibition of Wyeth's work many years ago before I had any idea of what it actually was. I remember being struck by the detail.

turlogh
11-22-2006, 04:21 PM
David, Thank goodness I don't have to cross-hatch everything!! My poor eyes can't stand such close work these days. And I would like to work faster, and with less detail. Saying that, the cross-hatch effect is quite nice I think. I'll practice with flat areas/strokes before I tackle the dress and face...
The whole crosshatch myth is something that drives a lot of people away from tempera.The important thing is to get the right ratio of egg to pigment, and to not put the paint on too thickly (i.e., no impasto). Other than that, tempera is quite flexible in terms of how it can be applied.

BTW, can you use tempera on watercolour paper without the gesso? or on ivorex paper? Don't know if you know this one, David, its a bit like thin
You can do that, but without gesso it's not such a pleasant surface to work on. Also, tempera is brittle. So if the ground is not rigid, then over time the paint is likely to crack. If you do to a painting on a non-rigid surface that you like, it would be a good idea to mount it onto hardboard or some other solid support.

artbyjune
11-26-2006, 10:36 AM
:) Here's my Botticelli copy update.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Nov-2006/11473-BGfiny1.jpg

I couldn't get the larger image to upload to the forum today for some reason.

I think she is finished. :wink2: Perhaps I rushed it a bit as I was eager to finish but I think rushing gave a better result than the previous meticulous cross-hatching (for me anyway).

I think I might do another tempera soon, i.e., my own work, not a classical copy, this time.

I think portraits of people come out well in this technique. But maybe animals would be good too. I saw a chicken in egg tempera on someone's website recently, and I thought it looked really good...kind of old fashioned.

:wave:

artbyjune
11-26-2006, 11:11 AM
BTW. I used yellow ochre underpainting for the face. But on inspection of the print in my book, I think Botticelli may have used the verdaccio underpainting in this one. The shadows look greenish in his version.

turlogh
11-26-2006, 10:42 PM
:) Here's my Botticelli copy update.
Wow! That's really amazing for an initial attempt in any medium. Great work.

artbyjune
11-27-2006, 12:09 PM
Thanks David. So far, love the tempera medium, even although I am using an 'easy' way with watercolours. I think its better for me now that I am not using cross-hatching so much and also I switched from cheap brushes to a sable watercolour brush! the correct tools make a difference.

I must admit there was a time half way thru painting her dress when I thought..'Oh no, I've messed up'..but I kept adding layers and it seemed to come right.

Do you have any tips on glazing or is it best left to harden naturally?

turlogh
11-27-2006, 12:57 PM
Thanks David. So far, love the tempera medium, even although I am using an 'easy' way with watercolours. I think its better for me now that I am not using cross-hatching so much and also I switched from cheap brushes to a sable watercolour brush! the correct tools make a difference. They certainly do. If you stick with tempera, my suggestion would be to get a couple of inexpensive earth pigments in dry form and try those. In Scotland, you might want to check out Kremer Pigments (http://www.kremer-pigmente.de/englisch/homee.htm) for mail order. Most tempera painters strongly prefer working with pigments rather than watercolor. There would be no problem mixing egg tempera made with watercolor paint and tempera made with dry pigments.

I must admit there was a time half way thru painting her dress when I thought..'Oh no, I've messed up'..but I kept adding layers and it seemed to come right. That happens to me a lot. If you really screw up, you can take a razor and scrape the paint off, back to the gesso, then start that section over again.

Do you have any tips on glazing or is it best left to harden naturally? Do you mean varnishing? Yes, I do. Some artists like to apply a final layer of thinned egg yolk medium (say 1 part yolk to 3-8 parts water). Cennini tells us to apply a top layer of egg white, but I have found that this causes cracks and flaking, so I recommend against it.

Leave the painting in a sunny room for a few days. The actinic light will help harden the yolk binder. After a couple of weeks, some artists like to gently polish the surface with a piece of silk or a soft, lint-free cloth such as an old t-shirt.

Egg tempera paintings take 8-12 months to cure. Until they have cured, they are vulnerable to moisture. After that, they are water resistant (although not water proof).

Some artists prefer the sheen of unvarnished tempera paintings and frame their work under glass like a watercolor painting. Others varnish egg tempera paintings in the same manner as an oil painting, in which case no glass is needed. Varnish will change some of the tonalities of an egg tempera painting, so it is best to try it out on a test piece before varnishing a panting you really like. Varnishing was probably the standard practice in the Renaissance; just about any old tempera painting you see in a museum has been varnished. Varnishing should be done only after the painting has cured.

artbyjune
11-27-2006, 01:08 PM
Thanks David. I will invest in some dry pigments after Christmas. I don't think I'll varnish it as i like the finish and probably no point in covering it up. I'll leave it hanging to harden for the next year and then put it under glass.

I posted this painting over in the new tempera forum.

turlogh
11-27-2006, 01:12 PM
The idea behind this workshop is to explore different media used for painting in Renaissance Italy. For that reason, we are now moving beyond egg tempera.

During the course of the 15th century, oil painting became increasingly popular. Oil paint had greater depth and could be blended and reworked, allowing naturalistic effects that were difficult or impossible in more traditional Medieval painting media such as egg tempera or buon fresco. Yet oil paints were hardly the perfect medium. They were complex to work with and required that the artist wait for days between layers for the paint to dry. Oil yellows, darkens, and cracks over time. When improperly applied, oil could also wrinkle or fail to adhere properly. Renaissance painters naturally tried various ways to combine oil with the traditional egg medium with which they were already familiar. Many paintings from the 15th and early 16th century, when subjected to chemical and spectral analysis, turn out to include both egg and oil.

TEMPERA GRASSA

One way to combine egg and oil is to mix them together. The Italians called such paint tempera grassa, which means “fatty tempera,” It is also sometimes called oil tempera. This type of paint was probably used from the early 15th century onward.

Tempera grassa is an emulsion of egg and oil. Egg yolk is a natural emulsion that incorporates oil into its makeup fairly easily. You are already familiar with an egg-oil emulsion—it’s called mayonnaise. Tempera grassa is essentially mayonnaise made with a drying oil. The type of oil usually preferred in Italy was walnut oil, although linseed was also used at times.

To make a simple kind of tempera grassa, separate an egg yolk using the method described in the section on egg tempera and put it into a small cup. Measure the volume of yolk, then measure out the desired volume of oil. Add just a few of drops of oil to the egg, mixing thoroughly as you do so. Add a little more oil and continue mixing. Repeat, adding oil a few drops at a time, until all of it has been blended in.

The amount of oil to use will depend on your preference; anywhere from a few drops to an amount equal to half again the amount of egg will work. The more oil, the more slowly the paint will dry and the more it will handle like oil paint. If you are just starting, try five parts egg to three parts oil (which produces a moderately egg-rich mixture). If you’ve worked with egg tempera, an egg-rich for-mula will handle in a familiar way. Once you have mixed the egg and oil into an emulsion, you will want to add some water, blending it in a few drops at a time in the same manner that you added the oil. I have had good results with a mixture of 5 parts egg to 3 parts oil and 1.5 parts water, but you should feel free to experiment.
This substance is your painting medium. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so, depending on how much oil it contains (throw it away and clean the container thoroughly if it starts to smell). Mix in a couple of drops of water before each day’s session to compensate for evaporation. You can make paint with it in exactly the same manner as egg tempera, mixing together approximately equal amounts of medium and a paste of pigment and water. You can thin the paint with any desired amount of water; the important ratio is that of medium to pigment.

Just as with egg tempera, it is important get the ratio of pigment to binder right with tempera grassa. Practice on test pieces until you can consistently make acceptable paint. Tempera grassa paint made with too little medium will feel powdery once it dries. You can correct this by painting over it with thinned medium or with thinned egg yolk. Tempera grassa paint made with too much medium is difficult to work with and dries poorly. After the water and egg dry, it will have a crumbly, sticky feel if you run your hand over the surface. Don’t paint additional layers over it in this state, as you will probably get poor adhesion. You can either wait for the oil component of the paint to harden, which can take a day or two (or more with an oil-rich formula), or you can carefully scrape the paint off with a knife and start over.

It is also true that tempera grassa mixtures very occasionally fail to form stable emulsions, becoming gummy and unworkable. The paint will then refuse to dry for very extended periods (up to a couple of weeks). I don’t know why this occurs; I’ve had this happen to me only a couple of times. If the medium seems intractable or the oil and egg combine incompletely, throw it away, scrape off any paint you may have applied, and start over.

turlogh
11-27-2006, 01:20 PM
When I discussed egg tempera, I was able to present a very specific method of painting, because pure egg tempera painters generally followed a precise and traditional technique that is well documented by Cennino Cennini and other period sources. By comparison, we have less information about the working methods of painters who used tempera grassa. Experimentation, however, allows us to make a number of reasonable inferences.

Tempera grassa paint is a little like egg tempera and a little like oil paint, but mostly it is its own beast. It’s definitely helpful to learn egg tempera techniques first, because it is easier to learn hatching and layering methods without the technical complexities of oil in the mixture. Once you begin working with tempera grassa, you will find it reminiscent of egg tempera, but with more flexibility and greater depth of tone, especially in the darks. Just as with egg tempera, it is much easier to control tempera grassa if you paint in thin layers and have relatively little paint on the brush when you make a stroke.

Small and medium-sized sable or soft synthetic brushes are best. Firmer bristle brushes can also be used—a bristle brush holds more paint and is good for initial lay-ins. Be very sure to clean your brushes afterwards, as the oil will take its toll on them if you are not careful. For cleaning, I’ve had good luck with wiping brushes first with cheap linseed (not vegetable) oil, then washing very thoroughly with soap and warm water.

The paint will quickly dry on the palette if it is not kept moist (a spray mister is good for this). After an hour or two, the paint is more difficult to work with; scrape it off and make a new batch. Working with tempera grassa will be frustrating until you come to understand the process by which it dries. Because it is composed of substances that dry at very different rates, the paint goes through multiple stages as you paint. By keeping these stages in mind and learning to work with them instead of against them, you will find that tempera grassa is extremely flexible. In my experience, these seem to be the changes the paint goes through:
The paint is wet. you first apply the paint, it is entirely workable. If you squeeze most of the paint from the brush, tempera grassa can be applied with drybrush hatching strokes, which tend to fuse together more than hatching with egg tempera. It can also be gently blended with fingers or a soft dry brush. If the brush is loaded with more paint, it goes on loosely like any water-based paint. Once on the surface, it has a consistency similar to gouache and, depending on the recipe and the thickness of the paint, is workable for anywhere between one and five minutes.
The paint is tacky. As the water evaporates out of the paint, there is a point at which it quickly becomes sticky and hard to work with. As you feel it enter this stage, leave it alone. It is not work-able and attempts to manipulate it will result in a mess. Just as with egg tempera, it is easy to dig a hole, pulling up more and more paint as you try to fix the problem. If this starts to happen, stop and let it set before trying to fix it.
The paint has set. The water has evaporated and the egg component is holding the paint in a semi-solid state. It feels firm but damp to the touch; rubbing will pull it off the surface. If the paint is applied thinly and the recipe is egg-rich, it will set a few minutes after becoming tacky (less if it was drybrushed on). If the recipe is oil-rich, it can take a long time to set (or there may not be enough egg for it to truly set at all). When the paint reaches this stage, you can paint over it, but only with soft brushes and a fairly delicate touch. Too much paint, or too firm a hand, will disrupt the surface just as if it were tacky. If the paint refuses to set properly, a layer of thinned egg yolk (no oil) can allow you to paint over it without needing to wait days for it to firm up.
The paint is dry to the touch. With egg-rich tempera grassa recipes, it takes anywhere from ten minutes to several hours before the paint feels dry and can be worked over without the risk of disrupting lower layers. If the recipe is oil-rich, it can take days to get to this state. Placing the painting in a sunlit room as it dries is a good idea—it won’t make the oil dry faster, but it will strengthen the egg component of the paint.
The paint is dry. The oil component of the paint has oxidized to the point that the paint has hardened and is difficult to scratch with a fingernail. This can take anywhere from a day to a bit more than a week.The working quality of these stages and the time it takes to reach them depend on the recipe you are using, how much you have diluted the paint, how thickly you are painting, how wet the layers underneath are, and local weather conditions. In order to paint easily with tempera grassa, you will need to constantly attend to the feel of the paint in order to get a sense of what stage it has reached. You can’t keep adding layers indefinitely, so you must recognize when it is time to stop working on a given passage and let it dry. Compared to oil painting using a layered method, however, tempera grassa requires far fewer instances in which you must skip working for days at a time in order to allow the paint to dry.

Tempera grassa can be used alone or in a mixed media application. Here are some ways it can be applied:
A whole painting is done completely in tempera grassa.
An initial egg tempera underpainting is made, with tempera grassa layered on top in selected areas. These areas could cover small parts of the painting, or all of it.
Tempera grassa is used for underpainting, followed by layers of pure oil paint.
Tempera grassa is used for smoothly blended areas like clothing, drapery, and sky, while egg tempera is used for precisely rendered areas like faces and buildings.
While not possessing quite the depth of pure oil paint, transparent pigments in tempera grassa can be glazed (applied thinly) over egg tempera. This technique allows optical blending of one color over another—an effect that is subtly different than drybrushed, blended, or mixed paint.
You can make use of egg tempera, tempera grassa, or pure oil paint as needed to accomplish specific tasks throughout a painting project. Upper layers should not contain less oil than lower layers (except in small detail areas), because oil expands and contracts as it oxidizes, which can crack an upper layer containing too little oil. An extreme example of this method would be to do an egg tempera underpainting, add blended tempera grassa layers, lay pure oil glazes on top, then apply final details in egg tempera.

artbyjune
11-27-2006, 01:31 PM
Wow. This looks like a very intriguing technique. Do you have to use dry pigments? Or can you experiment with watercolour mixtures as in the egg tempera? Looks like I will need a trip to the art shop soon!

BTW, David, I checked out the website for dry pigments and it will be useful if there are no nearby artshops stocking dry colour.

turlogh
11-27-2006, 01:31 PM
Tempera grassa recipes

While the above is certainly enough to get you started, you can make other tempera grassa mix-tures by varying proportions or using other ingredients. You can add a siccative such as lead napthanate to cause the oil component of the paint to dry more quickly (use just a couple of drops per egg yolk). In addition to raw oils, period artists may have used other substances, including black oil (oil cooked with lead), other cooked oils, sun-thickened oils, varnishes, and (in later period) solvents.

Below are some sample recipes, although many others are possible. Mix each of them by adding the second listed ingredient to the first, then the third, and so on. Always add ingredients drop by drop while mixing thoroughly.

Recipe 1: 5 parts egg yolk, 3 parts cold-pressed oil (linseed or walnut), 1.5 parts water. This is the a simple recipe described above.
Recipe 2: 3 parts egg yolk, 1 part cold-pressed oil, 1 part water. This recipe will dry more quickly and handle more like egg tempera. It is also good for mixing with commercial oil paint.
Recipe 3: 2 parts egg yolk, 2 part cold-pressed oil, 1 part water. This recipe will blend more easily and handle more like oil paint, but it is harder to apply multiple layers in one session.
Recipe 4: 5 parts egg yolk, 3 parts black oil (linseed oil cooked with lead), 1.5 parts water. This is similar to recipe 1, but will handle a little more smoothly and the oil will dry more quickly.
Recipe 5: 3 parts egg yolk, 1 part cold-pressed oil, 1 part thickened oil (stand oil, cooked oil, or sun-thickened oil), 1.5 parts water. This recipe will blend a little more smoothly than standard tempera grassa.Each of these recipes produces a medium that can be mixed with pigment paste to make paint. With a little research, you can find (or create) many other emulsion recipes. I do not know which were used by painters in period—the information available is sketchy. I suspect that some painters experimented extensively and that most reasonable variations were tried. I do strongly recommend that you try a recipe out on a test painting before using it on work that is important to you.

Tempera grassa and commercial oil paint

It is not absolutely necessary to use ground powdered pigments with tempera grassa—if you prefer, you can mix commercial oil paint with an egg-oil emulsion. If you do this, I suggest that you reduce the amount of oil in the tempera grassa recipe to no more than 1 part oil to 3 parts egg. It will require some experimentation to determine the best ratio of oil paint to tempera grassa medium, which will vary somewhat with brand and pigment. Mixing can require patience. Squeeze the oil paint onto your palette, add just a drop or two of egg medium, and mix with a palette knife. At first, the paint will be clumpy, but with perseverance you can get it to mix completely. Keep adding medium in small amounts and mixing until you have paint of the desired consistency.

Tempera grassa mixed with oil paint always seems a bit more finicky than tempera grassa made with pure pigment. Commercial paint, however, can be an excellent way to make use of pigments that you don’t want to work with in powder form. For example, I use mostly handmade paint for period work, but for substances like lead white, lead tin yellow, and vermillion, which contain heavy metals, I instead use alternative pigments or commercial tube colors.

There are also commercially available “egg tempera” paints. These are not pure egg tempera (which would spoil quickly in a tube), but egg-oil emulsions using various proprietary formulas. They are therefore similar to tempera grassa and can be used as a convenient alternative.

turlogh
11-27-2006, 01:34 PM
Wow. This looks like a very intriguing technique. Do you have to use dry pigments? Or can you experiment with watercolour mixtures as in the egg tempera?
As I noted above (after your post), I've made tempera grassa with oil paints. I haven't tried it with watercolor paints. It would probably work, but I expect that some experimentation would be necessary.

borodin
11-30-2006, 10:55 AM
Thank you for the information you gave me about “Blanco de España,” I have very little knowledge about these painting techniques and I am here mostly to learn so my contributions will be in the asking of questions.

My thanks to all and our lecturer, it is always of interest to learn something new.

Borodin

borodin
11-30-2006, 11:23 PM
While being a late comer to this workshop I have decided to attempt a painting or at least part of one with the traditional approach using a wooden panel, a little modernized. I am constructing a panel with 1/4 inch birch plywood on one side, then a framework of oak, and on the other side a 1/8 inch meranti plywood both glued to the framework. The 1/4 inch will receive the gesso, and, all in all, I hope will not be more than 5/8 of an inch thick. But I must do a lot of work to catch up every one else is (I believe) nearing completion or finished.

I like the Russian Icon style paintings, using a Botticelli Madonna and I will hope not to have to join him in a bonfire of my vanity. I will cheat a little and pick the painting form the internet, linearize it, reverse it, pass it through a laser Jet printer and iron it on to the smooth gesso. I have done this on canvas before and it worked well. Yes, yes, I know, I know, so I am lazy and you have all done the job right, but I must catch up or at least try to and I still have many questions about the paint. That will not be easy and I have already skipped the gesso part, that has the advantage of seaming to be easier.

When the panel warps I will go back and try the 1/4 hardboard.

Borodin

borodin
12-02-2006, 01:43 AM
I have been reading your lectures and I am having problems with the following:

“Some modern tempera painters do very elaborate ink under drawings, with a full range of values established via hatching or graded washes, before they begin to paint. They use the under drawing as essentially an under painting, in which semi-opaque paint is applied in such a way that the under drawing shows through and contributes strongly to the final optical effect.”

I changed my mind about the painting I wish to attempt to “La Madonna dei Garofani,” that is translated for some reason in English to “The Madonna of the Pinks,” chosen mostly because of its size, painted in oils, but maybe useful for this course. Just how precisely does the under drawing have to be, I am attaching a color version and a gray scaled version with the contrast lowered to see if this is what you intend as an under drawing. Would these tones be adequate or would darker or more intense ink and crosshatch be applied?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/94325-renaissance_color.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/94325-renaissance_gray.jpg

The Madonna of the Pinks Raphael, c. 1506–1507 oil on fruitwood 28.8 × 22.8 cm
National Gallery, London. I can sketch this painting, not so precisely, but I am getting old and lazy.

Sincerely,

Borodin

turlogh
12-02-2006, 07:21 PM
Just how precisely does the under drawing have to be, I am attaching a color version and a gray scaled version with the contrast lowered to see if this is what you intend as an under drawing. Would these tones be adequate or would darker or more intense ink and crosshatch be applied?
In the early 20th century, some academics such as Daniel Thompson believed that the Italian tempera technique started with a tonal ink drawing with very elaborate crosshatching. This underdrawing was essential, they thought, to creating the visual structure of a tempera painting. Thompson's classic book "The Practice of Tempera Painting," insists that this is the correct way to paint in tempera. Altoon Sultan, in her much more recent "The Luminous Brush" parrots Thompson's view. Some other modern tempera painters follow this practice as well.

Thompson knew a lot about tempera painting, but he did not have the advantage of being able to do x-ray and infrared analysis of underdrawings; he was making an educated guess. As it turns out, Thompson was wrong. Italian painters sometimes did elaborate underdrawings, but more commonly they just drew in the outlines of the forms and applied minimal hatching to sketch in some of the basic modeling of light and dark. The ink underdrawing was just a guide, not a critical part of the final optical effect of the painting. In Northern Europe, underdrawing was much more elaborate than in Italy.

So you can make an underdrawing that is as elaborate or as simple as you wish. If what you've done already is sufficient, then you don't need an underdrawing at all (some paintings have no detectable underdrawing, which might just mean that the drawing was done with the same egg tempera paint as in the rest of the painting).


N.B. I could also point out that there are modern methods of "Flemish" oil painting that are based entirely on what some late 19th and early 20th century German scholars believed about early Flemish oil painting techniques. This is, for example, where the "Mixed Technique," involving alternating layers of oil and tempera comes from. This method has almost nothing to do with what we now know about early Flemish painting methods, even though you will hear from Mixed Technique painters that they are doing exactly what Renaissance Flemish painters did.

turlogh
12-02-2006, 07:50 PM
A couple of years ago, I did a copy of a portion of Botticelli's "La Primavera." According to "La Primavera: The Restoration of Botticelli's Masterpiece," it was done in tempera grassa, so that's what I used. Within the limits of pigment availability and safety, I used a method as close to that of Botticelli as I could.

It is done on a 20 x 16" plywood panel, prepared with traditional gesso. I thought it might be useful to post some progress shots.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-underdrawing.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces01.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces02.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces03.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces04.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces05.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2006/25315-graces06.jpg

saintlukesguild
12-02-2006, 08:30 PM
Been following this, David, and this is a supurb presentation of factual information. Don't have the time to try tempera now but certainly intend to.

Two questions: If you make a serious mistake, can you scrape off dried tempera with a blade? (You might have answered this but I can't recall.) And, do have any knowledge of mixing egg white only with oil paint, or the entire egg?

turlogh
12-02-2006, 08:55 PM
Two questions: If you make a serious mistake, can you scrape off dried tempera with a blade? (You might have answered this but I can't recall.) And, do have any knowledge of mixing egg white only with oil paint, or the entire egg?
Yes, you can scrape tempera down with a blade. I haven't worked much with egg white. I have made mediums with egg yolk and mixed them with oil paints.

borodin
12-02-2006, 11:21 PM
I like the work you have done on the partial painting of the Botticelli "La Primavera," it is something that I would like very much to accomplish that ephemeral veil and essence of the clothing. Still life and landscaping are of course a great achievement, but the proportions of the living form human or animal and its setting are the ultimate achievement and what must be sought by all painters.

Thank you for the progress shots they are indeed very useful, this gives me more of an idea of what needs to be done.

I am attempting a short cut on the board, I will not bore the group with the idea, should it work I will post it.

Also, I think you are not doing enow work so I will post my sketch as soon as may be for you to critique.

Sorry, forgot, is tempera translucent or can it be handled like a glaze?

Regards,

Borodin

turlogh
12-03-2006, 08:34 AM
Sorry, forgot, is tempera translucent or can it be handled like a glaze?
Tempera is naturally semi-opaque, largely because it is usually applied in such thin layers. The addition of white tends to make any tempera color more opaque; this is useful when trying to apply an even tone without streaking or mottling. Glazing is quite easy with tempera as a series of layers can be used to create the final optical effect. You can, for example, apply a layer of blue, a layer of yellow, a layer of blue, a layer of yellow, and so on, and achieve an optical green.

This is much easier to talk about once you've tried tempera. It is not quite like any other painting medium.

borodin
12-06-2006, 12:54 AM
I am almost finished with my panel it appears as if it will work. But I am as yet undecided as to the paint or rather how to make the tempera paint. I have read your posts on this and since I cannot get the pigments I would like to ask if old water color paint, which has dried in the tube, be used if I can reconstitute the paint into a suitable paste, I will use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the paint and after add water and heat in a double boiler, then add this to the yolk.

Also, I would like more information on glair.

Borodin

turlogh
12-06-2006, 02:06 PM
I am almost finished with my panel it appears as if it will work. But I am as yet undecided as to the paint or rather how to make the tempera paint. I have read your posts on this and since I cannot get the pigments I would like to ask if old water color paint, which has dried in the tube, be used if I can reconstitute the paint into a suitable paste, I will use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the paint and after add water and heat in a double boiler, then add this to the yolk.
I don't know whether this would work or not; watercolor brands have different formulations and some are easier to reconstitute than others. On the other hand, the only cost to you is a little time and an egg or two, so there is no reason not to try it out. I would suggest making tempera paint and applying thinly to a sheet of smooth glass. You can then test it by letting it dry and then scraping it off with a sharp knife. If it comes off in a smooth curl, without cracking or breaking apart, it should be just fine.

Also, I would like more information on glair.
Glair was used in making paint for illuminated manuscripts. Apparently glair tempera was more resistant to being rubbed off when painted on parchment and made into books. You can make glair by separating an egg yolk into a clean ceramic or wooden bowl and beating it until it is all frothy. Let sit for several hours and pour off the liquid that has collected at the bottom into a jar. Some Medieval sources say to repeat this procedure several times; others say once is enough. Another method is to use a natural sponge to suck up the egg yolk and squeeze it out many times.

You can make glair tempera in the same manner as egg yolk tempera, by mixing it with a paste of pigment and water. Medieval painters sometimes mixed glair tempera with gum tempera (made with gum arabic like moder watercolor and gouache). They also adjusted the consistency and surface tension by mixing in any of a number of substances, including stale beer and earwax. I've only played around with it a few times, so I am by no means an expert. A good source is "The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting" by Daniel V. Thompson.

borodin
12-07-2006, 12:08 PM
I would suggest making tempera paint and applying thinly to a sheet of smooth glass. You can then test it by letting it dry and then scraping it off with a sharp knife. If it comes off in a smooth curl, without cracking or breaking apart, it should be just fine.

Thank you your answer is excellent, I now have a basis by which I can test if the paint is good or not, whether with the water paint or in the future pigments. Obviously paint creates a layer over the base being painted, but how to test if the paint is at its point is most important.

Thank you for the information on “glair” and the reference, and it will come in very handy. I have attempted glazing in oils before, but the buildup was usually excessive, and while it did look well, it also literally stood out. This will give me many hours, months, of enjoyment. It is said the way to learn is to begin, and this is true. The person who said this should have included that there is always the need for a mentor who knows the way.

Sincerely,

Borodin

artbyjune
12-10-2006, 10:04 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Dec-2006/11473-mmaniy1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Dec-2006/11473-mmanc1y1.jpg

Trying tempera grassa technique.

Copy of Botticelli: portrait of Guiliano de medici

1. ink wash
2. first colour layer over yellow ochre over the ink wash

I used a recipe as follows:- 3 parts yolk. 1 part stand oil. 1 part water. (More or less; not exact). Mixed with artisan water-mixable oil paint. (P.S. Used Water-mixable stand oil)

I found this tempera dried at the same rate as my watercolour ET mixes which was good as it made the transition from ET to TG easier.

I'll finish the colour layers later in the week or maybe not til the weekend.

Maybe the top coat could be pure artisan oil glazes.

artbyjune
12-10-2006, 10:17 AM
I liked the way it blended much better than the previous technique. I found I could lay on a flat wash easier.

stoney
12-10-2006, 12:01 PM
Trying tempera grassa technique.

Copy of Botticelli: portrait of Guiliano de medici

1. ink wash
2. first colour layer over yellow ochre over the ink wash

I used a recipe as follows:- 3 parts yolk. 1 part stand oil. 1 part water. (More or less; not exact). Mixed with artisan water-mixable oil paint. (P.S. Used Water-mixable stand oil)

I found this tempera dried at the same rate as my watercolour ET mixes which was good as it made the transition from ET to TG easier.

I'll finish the colour layers later in the week or maybe not til the weekend.

Maybe the top coat could be pure artisan oil glazes.

Looks good, however, that type of attire makes it look like the persons head is on backwards.

turlogh
12-11-2006, 08:51 AM
June,

You're doing great with this.

artbyjune
12-11-2006, 11:38 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Dec-2006/11473-mman2cy1.jpg

I managed to put some more colour on today. I'm pleased to copy this portrait because I'm getting practise with the TG.;)

However, I can see the problem with the tunic and the head! :wink2: The shadow lines may need corrected. I'll correct that later. :D

artbyjune
12-11-2006, 11:41 AM
Actually, maybe the men wore strange costumes like this in medieval times. I didn't want to do another 'pretty' female which is why I chose this striking gent.

Granby
12-27-2006, 10:21 AM
Hi David (and everybody)

Figured I better post something to let you know your efforts are being appreciated.

Barb - how is your tempera effort coming along? I've been eagerly awaiting an update. June, your work is coming along great.

Here is the painting I'm working on. I'm going to try and paint the flesh old renaissance style just like the link that David provided way back near the start - using tempera grassa (same recipe June used mixed with tube oil paints). Here is stage 1 - terra verte underpainting over my underdrawing -- next step is warm green over the shadows. Pretty soon she'll look like a christmas tree - and I can't imagine I can possibly turn that into realistic flesh but I'm taking it one step at a time and taking it on faith it will all work out in the end.

The drawing was done on stiff paper. I laid down a thick layer of straight egg yolk over the drawing to protect the paper from the oil - which is the yellow color you see. After the first round of painting there is no evidence that the oil came through the paper at all. Can one just use egg yolk to protect surfaces from oil instead of gesso?

I think the tempera grassa is just awesome to work with based on my limited experience so far. It blends perfectly with fingers.

(This drawing is based loosely on a sketch by Pietro da Cortona)

turlogh
12-27-2006, 10:45 AM
Here is the painting I'm working on. I'm going to try and paint the flesh old renaissance style just like the link that David provided way back near the start - using tempera grassa (same recipe June used mixed with tube oil paints). Here is stage 1 - terra verte underpainting over my underdrawing -- next step is warm green over the shadows. Pretty soon she'll look like a christmas tree - and I can't imagine I can possibly turn that into realistic flesh but I'm taking it one step at a time and taking it on faith it will all work out in the end.
This is a good underpainting. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to glaze flesh tones with just enough transparency over a green base, but the effects you can achieve once you get the hang of it are lovely.

The drawing was done on stiff paper. I laid down a thick layer of straight egg yolk over the drawing to protect the paper from the oil - which is the yellow color you see. After the first round of painting there is no evidence that the oil came through the paper at all. Can one just use egg yolk to protect surfaces from oil instead of gesso?)
I am not certain, but I would not trust plain egg yolk as a size coat for permanent work. A layer of hide glue is more traditional and probably more likely to hold up over the long term.

saintlukesguild
12-27-2006, 12:31 PM
Hi David,

What is your experience or opinion about sandwiching tempera paint between layers of out of the tube oil paint? Tempera paint as the final touch on oil paint? Egg/oil emulsion as the final touch on dried oil paint?

Thanks
Luke

turlogh
12-27-2006, 08:34 PM
What is your experience or opinion about sandwiching tempera paint between layers of out of the tube oil paint? Tempera paint as the final touch on oil paint? Egg/oil emulsion as the final touch on dried oil paint?
I'll be doing a more extensive post about oil/tempera mixed media soon. For any such work, I strongly recommend working on a rigid surface rather than fabric. Tempera is a great underpainting medium for oil paint. It is also good, in small areas, for applying in detail into wet oil paint. I haven't tried emulsions over dried oil paint; I'd be concerned about problems with the fat over lean rule in that circumstance.

Nickel
12-27-2006, 10:33 PM
David, just wanted you to know I am still here too and appreciate your hard work at putting this workshop together. It's the best and thank you very much! Looking forward to the oil/tempera mixed media. Also, June and Granby, have enjoyed seeing your work. :thumbsup: Nickel

Granby
12-29-2006, 03:06 PM
David,
Here's how it is coming along so far. I skipped the bright red cheeks (just couldn't deal with them). This is after two layers of flesh color - Does this look about right so far ? She still looks really green to me. I've been using flake white but may switch to titanium for the light side. I'm also losing my shadows more than I wanted - any tips on how to darken light pink for the shadow areas.

PushingPixels
12-30-2006, 12:21 AM
comming along nicely...

borodin
12-30-2006, 01:26 AM
The boards are both looking good and I am at the stage of attempting to make the tempera paint, with the instructions given there should be no great problems except that I have never attempted portraits especially with such detail and elegance of the masters. I keep wanting to paint a still life, and the technique cannot be learned without attempting the reason for its existence. In any case I am still here just slow.

Borodin

turlogh
12-30-2006, 10:48 AM
David,
Here's how it is coming along so far. I skipped the bright red cheeks (just couldn't deal with them). This is after two layers of flesh color - Does this look about right so far ? She still looks really green to me. I've been using flake white but may switch to titanium for the light side. I'm also losing my shadows more than I wanted - any tips on how to darken light pink for the shadow areas.
It takes some practice to learn to modulate the opacity of the upper layers to make use of the underpainting tonalities without either obliterating them or allowing them to dominate. When I screw up and lose the underpainting (which has happened often), I will sometimes mix some of the underpainting color into my transitional overpainting tones. The result doesn't have the vibrancy of doing it right from the beginning, but it blends in without looking jarring. With pure tempera, it's also easy to scrape back with a knife, but that's more difficult with tempera grassa or oil paint.

I would caution you regarding the opacity of titanium white. Even in the lights, it might be a bit overpowering for this painting method.

You're doing fine with this. No one gets it exactly right on the first try. You'll get a decent-looking picture this time, and next time you'll nail it.

turlogh
12-30-2006, 10:49 AM
I keep wanting to paint a still life, and the technique cannot be learned without attempting the reason for its existence.
There is no reason why your first attempts at tempera should not be done with a still life. You could always do portraits later as you become more comfortable with the medium.

turlogh
12-31-2006, 09:23 AM
In the 15th century, it was not the case that painters thought of egg tempera, tempera grassa, and oil painting as separate media. Instead, for the most part, these were all part of one general method of easel painting (as opposed to buon fresco, manuscript illumination, and other kinds of painting).

Here are some mixed-media approaches to tempera grassa:
An initial egg tempera underpainting is made, with tempera grassa layered on top in selected areas. These areas could cover small parts of the painting, or all of it.
Tempera grassa is used for underpainting, followed by layers of pure oil paint.
Tempera grassa is used for smoothly blended areas like clothing, drapery, and sky, while egg tempera is used for precisely rendered areas like faces and buildings.
While not possessing quite the depth of pure oil paint, transparent pigments in tempera grassa can be glazed (applied thinly) over egg tempera. This technique allows optical blending of one color over another—an effect that is subtly different than drybrushed, blended, or mixed paint.
You can make use of egg tempera, tempera grassa, or pure oil paint as needed to accomplish specific tasks throughout a painting project. Upper layers should not contain less oil than lower layers (except in small detail areas), because oil expands and contracts as it oxidizes, which can crack an upper layer containing too little oil. An extreme example of this method would be to do an egg tempera underpainting, add blended tempera grassa layers, lay pure oil glazes on top, then apply final details in egg tempera.Here are some mixed-media approaches to egg tempera and oil:
Use egg tempera and oil paints side by side. Oil can be used for drapery, clothing, skies, and other areas where smooth blending is more important than fine detail; while egg tempera is used for faces, hands, buildings, and other areas where tight rendering is required. The final result has an uneven sheen that must be unified with varnish when the painting has dried.
Create an egg tempera painting, then glaze over any areas desired with thin layers of oil paint.
Create an egg tempera underpainting, taking advantage of its quick-drying properties. The next layer is opaque oil paint, which goes on nicely over egg tempera. Multiple layers can be applied if needed. Once the opaque oil paint is dry, the artist can, if desired, apply transparent oil glazes. It seems likely that many 15th century works labeled as “oil paintings” were done in this manner.
On top of oil paint that is still wet, paint crisp details and hard edges in small areas using egg tempera. For example, the details of hair can be rendered in egg tempera on top of oil. A light touch with a small brush allows the tempera to be applied over the oil paint without becoming muddy. Surprisingly, the tempera sinks into and binds with the oil without blurring. It is not advisable to apply egg tempera over oil in large areas, since oil paint expands and contracts while drying and could crack the tempera. If the oil paint layer is very thin, however, and the painting is done on panel rather than canvas, this is less of a concern.While tempera grassa works well over egg tempera, and oil is fine over tempera grassa, you may find it difficult to paint with oil directly over egg tempera. In this case, the relatively absorbent egg tempera can pull too much oil out of the oil paint. You may therefore wish to apply an isolating layer on top of egg tempera before adding oil paint over it. I have generally used a very thin layer of linseed or walnut oil rubbed in by hand for this purpose. It is also possible to use hide glue, varnish, or shellac.

artbyjune
12-31-2006, 02:34 PM
Very interesting, David. I want to try some of these mixed approaches soon.

I'm still using watercolour with egg for my egg tempera but I will be ordering dry pigments in the new year (i.e. tomorrow)as I have decided I really like egg tempera.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL...

Granby
01-02-2007, 10:14 AM
Hi Everyone,

Mostly finished her up over the long weekend. I managed to rescue most of the shadows before the paint dried in my last post. This is easily the best skin I have ever painted - Once I got to the point that I realized the green was going to go away on its own ( and showed some patience for a change ) - it almost seemed easy. The warm and cool green underpainting works really well in my opinion - when you are doing it right the greens seem to almost magically handle all the color nuance for you. 98% of the skin was painted with indian red and flake white - with a tiny drop of yellow when I wanted peach. I think I really like the t. grassa as well.

Thanks again David - I've learned so much trying out the info in this thread.

artbyjune
01-02-2007, 12:17 PM
She looks really good, Granby.

I must try again with verdaccio technique. I didn't get it right the first time around and painted opaquely over it to cover it up...maybe I should have been more patient.

I ordered a basic set of dry pigments and they'll arrive in about 1 to 2 weeks. So I am looking forward to playing with my new colours.

artbyjune
01-15-2007, 09:51 AM
Just popped in to say I got my parcel of dry pigments today.

The colours are SO bright. Well, I am looking forward to trying the ET methods out using the real McCoy!! May take a while before I can do something using them though.