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Welcome to the Wax Egg Oil gallery! My interests are in the use of Egg Tempera and other older painting methods. You will find here images using more conventional techniques as well.
Egg tempera is one of the simplest of the painting mediums - and also one of the most natural. Just think about the way egg sticks after its dried and think about adding colours to that - you have a very durable paint indeed. Examples of egg tempera paintings survive with all their colours intact from the time of Christ.
It is a watercolour technique but might be best considered as being midway between oil painting and watercolour. The mixtures of pigments and egg are dissolved and thinned with water. It is generally painted onto a prepared solid support like wood, being considered prone to flaking if applied to more flexible surfaces. Of course other components can be added to the egg to alter its properties. Oil can be added to make what is essentially mayonnaise. This can still be thinned with water to a point and yet will have qualities somewhat like oil paint.
I'm often asked about the qualities of egg tempera and have found that this can be sometimes very difficult to answer. Depending on the final treatment of the painting it can in fact look very like oil paint. There are some differences. Oil paint tends to have a more mellow and yellow look to it as well as having a somewhat wider tonal range. Compared to egg tempera it often looks muddy. Egg tempera is also a very precise medium and so edges are very sharply defined. Egg tempera thus looks brighter in tone with colours that are often clearer and certainly with very sharp details.
You will find that I also use a medium I like to call wax tempera. It is an emulsified beeswax medium that is added to egg tempera - in which case the egg really acts to mainly bind the wax to the support since it has little adhesion on its own. The use of wax as a medium is ancient, dating back to the Paleolithic in one form or another. The techniques that I use are a modern adaptation of a style that was used in the Egypt of the early Christian era for the making of some mummy portraits. It is related to a style later called Cerra Colla which was used by Byzantine painters. Cerra colla involved mixing wax soap with glue and pigment.
Another increasing specialization of mine is in casein tempera. This is a very neglected medium mainly because tube casein has a somewhat bad reputation and is nowhere near as good as homemade casein. It is a bit tedious to make but is well worth it. Like egg tempera it needs to be painted onto an inflexible surface. In appearance it is like gouache but stronger and with nicer characteristics. The final painted product tends to have a very high tone with matt finish - I think about as close as you can come to pastel painting in brilliancy of colour and light (maybe even better sometimes). It makes a good underpainting for egg tempera, and can be used under oil painting though not so well. If it is varnished it can easily be mistaken for pure oil painting.
If you have any experience of or are using casein, egg tempera and wax tempera then I'd like to hear about it so definitely email me. If you have any recipes or formulas that you could contribute to my recipes page then let me know.
If you would like to know about making wax tempera then have a look at my recipes page. The particular information on making the medium is located here among my recipes. If you have any other comments then please make them. For instance I'd be grateful for warning of any difficulties in reading or viewing these pages.
The last modification to these pages was on 9 February 2017.