Many of the beautiful paintings from the Renaissance were done in egg tempera. Egg tempera is a brilliant, semi-translucent paint that dries almost instantly. This will have a profound effect on the artists painting style as it does not lend itself to washes, wet-into-wet, or oil-style blending techniques. Instead, egg tempera is best suited to short, overlapping strokes using cross-hatching for blending and toning effects.
Claybord is particularly receptive to this durable and vibrant pigment. The smoothness and absorbency of the surface is very similar to a ‘traditional’ gesso panel made with chalk and hide glue. Egg tempera requires the use of a rigid surface to prevent cracking and aging.
The key to working with egg tempera on Claybord is a) how you lay down the first layers of paint and b) ensuring that you allow each layer to dry before beginning your detail work.
When using egg tempera, begin by using three to four thin washes of paint washed over the entire panel, allowing paint to dry thoroughly between layers. The first four layers should dry overnight to allow good adhesion for subsequent layers. Use a very large brush and stay away from detail work in the beginning stages. Outline the shapes and shadows to position the subject matter where desired in this stage. After the preparatory layers are finished, alternate to smaller brushes narrowing down the clarity of the forms and subject matter. Continue painting in thin layers and allow adequate drying time between layers. Gradually increase the paint thickness as the layers develop. Repeat the previous step many times gradually narrowing the size of the brushes. When the final stages have been reached, a brush as small as #00 should used to create precise detail. The paint consistency in the final stages should be relatively thick so that the vibrancy and character of egg tempera is thoroughly enhanced. Varnish after adequate drying time is complete and frame.
To read the full article and access some egg tempera recipes, refer to our article: Some General Tips on Egg Tempera
For even more tips on working in Egg Tempera, refer to this post by Andrea Pramuk: Using Egg Tempera on Claybord
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