52/52 Painting Challenge – Painting #8

The Blue Crowned Mot-Mot

For this painting challenge I combined watercolor with egg yolk. I took a class in egg tempera from American-born Suzanne Scherer and Russian-born Pavel Ouporov in 2004 at the New York Botanical Garden. I absolutely loved it. The major issue I had when using egg tempera, was not the egg, but the pigments. I purchased a bunch of raw pigments in powder form. In order to create a paint, the pigment must be mixed with the egg solution in order for the paint to adhere to the paper. The particles of pigment are very fine in most cases, similar to baby powder. When I was making the paint a lot of the pigment went airborne and a fine coating of dust was all over the place. Luckily the pigment I was using was Pthalo Green, which is not hazardous. I quickly decided that I did not want to go through the expense and hassle of creating a dust free box to mix the paints. I gave away all my pigments and decided to go with an alternative. I had heard that it was possible to add egg yolk to watercolor. In this painting I did just that. In order to mix the egg I had to first crack open the egg and discard the egg white. Then very carefully I pierced the egg yolk and holding onto the membrane the yolk emptied out into a bowl, leaving me holding just the membrane. It takes a few times to get the knack of it. It is easier to do than it sounds. Once I had the pure yolk I added some water and a bit of vinegar. I then put it into a small squeeze bottle and instead of adding water to my watercolor paints I added the yolk solution. It worked very effectively. I was able to create the patina that is inherent in egg tempera with out the danger or mess of using raw pigments.

To see Scherer-Ouporov's work, visit their website. They do the most incredible work. I don't think I will ever be a full time egg tempera painter but it is fun to stray off the beaten path once in a while and try something new.

To read more information about the Blue Crowned Mot-Mot here is a link to a post I did a few weeks back.

Have any of you tried egg tempera? If so, what has been your experience?