Three recipes for egg tempera

Here are three recipes for egg tempera but there are many more. If grinding the dry pigments is not something you want to try right away, substitute gouache for the "pigment paste" in each of these recipes.


Recipe 1


  • 2 egg yolks

  • cold sterile water

  • 1 drop vinegar

  • pigment paste (pigment ground with water)

Pierce membrane of yolk and let liquid stream into glass measuring cup. Discard membrane. Add equal amount of water and stir. Pour into a glass-stoppered wide-mouthed bottle. Add vinegar to preserve. Will keep 3 to 4 days. To add pigment, put a little of the paste of ground color in a cup and add about an equal bulk of the egg yolk mixture. Stir thoroughly with a brush. Paint a few strokes and let dry. If dull and chalky, add more egg mixture. If very shiny add a little more ground color.

From Ralph Mayer's, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques


Recipe 2


  • egg yolk

  • 1 part sterile water

  • 1 part alcohol

  • dry pigment

Separate the yolk from the white, discarding the white and placing the yolk in your palm. Pass the yolk gently from one palm to the other drying the empty palm. When the yolk sac becomes fairly dry, pick up the yolk with your thumb and forefinger and hold it over a clean, small jar. Puncture the yolk and drain it into the jar, add water and shake into a pale emulsion. Deposit small quantities of dry pigments into the wells of a porcelain specimen plate. Use an eye dropper to add water and/or alcohol to each well and grind with a glass rod. Add enough yolk water with brush to cause a color stroke to dry with luster.

From Robert Massey's, Formulas for Painters


Recipe 3


  • 1 whole egg

  • 1 tsp. raw linseed oil

  • 4 drops vinegar

  • pigment paste (pigment ground with a tiny amount of water or alcohol)

Break the egg and drop the contents into a small clean jar. Add the oil, cap the jar, and shake the contents until they combine completely. Add vinegar as a preservative. Strain the whole mixture through two layers of cheese cloth into a fresh jar. This emulsion produces a paint which can be thinned or diluted with water, and which is slightly less oily than other egg/oil emulsions. Grind pigment paste into the emulsion, using only as much pigment as you need for one painting session.

From Robert Massey's, Formulas for Painters


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