Egg tempera was born in the early Renaissance to meet the desire for “portable” paintings. Egg yolk is an excellence binder that will last for centuries. The artist must mix small amounts of fresh paint for each painting session using egg yolk, water and dry pigments. I find this mixing of paint to be a pleasing meditation during which I consider each color, its hue and intensity, how it will be used, the result I expect, the variations I will need. Generally, I use a palette of only nine colors, including white, to mix all of the colors you see in my paintings. (I do not use black pigment – black is mixed from the other colors.) Mixing these pigments forces me to consider all of the color variants in each object and shadow, not just local color.
The slow meticulous process of painting in egg tempera may be tedious to many artists. The paint is applied with very small strokes of a fine pointed brush. It cannot be blended like oils or acrylics because is dries immediately on the gessoed surface. Blending and modeling must be achieved by cross-hatching layers of varying values. It is the layering that gives egg tempera its luminescence that I love.