Egg tempera in Firenze

Not making prints at the moment. Instead, I am immersed In the Renaissance here in my favorite place–Firenze!

Working in tempera di uova a and tempera grassa. Not for the faint of heart this technique, and certainly when one works in the ancient way.

First the substrate need to be prepared. That means melting the rabbit skin glue, and sizing the board, attaching the canvas at the same time. Once the canvas is tacked over the board, the gesso is painted into the canvas. Three coats of size applied in opposite directions after mixing the powdered gesso and the dregs of the rabbit skin glue with water and heating the mixture. When the gesso is dry, the board can be sanded for the necessarily smooth surface.

In the meantime, prepare the cartoon or drawing. Once the drawing is complete, it is perforated so that the image can be transferred to the prepared board with red pigment.

Not quite ready to paint. Next the paints must be prepared. Powdered pigment is sifted onto a small puddle of water (for egg tempera) or vinegars (for tempera grassa). When mixed, a small amount of medium is added and the pigment is ground into the medium to make a loose paste. More pigment is added and ground until a rather thick paste is created. Small amounts must be made so that the paints do not dry out. The traditional colors are: red, yellow, blue, burnt umber, white, and verdaccio (a very dark green).

Allora, one can start to paint. Layer after layer of paint is carefully applied to the image so that a dense flat color is built up. After the first layer of paint it is possible to blend adjacent colors, creating subtleties. The result is very delicate.

To finish up, a “frame” of gold leaf is added.

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2 thoughts on “Egg tempera in Firenze

  1. Wow Adrienne! Both your painting and process are beautiful…would you give a tempera workshop when you’re back in Santa Cruz? I would move heaven and earth to take it;)

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