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Old 25-12-15, 03:58 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 316

Thanks for describing Elaine Drew's experience, Lora. At the risk of redundancy, but for the sake of ET newcomers, I'll point out that Elaine is an accomplished tempera painter who, from past experience, was able to recognize the distinction between the working properties of traditional gesso and casein gesso. A newcomer to the medium wouldn't know that the casein gesso wasn't behaving optimally for egg tempera, and might assume that slipping paint is intrinsic to tempera (or the fault of the painter). That is the problem with new grounds that are advertised as ideal for tempera - they mislead the beginner. Which is why, much as I like Sinopia as a company and think their products are generally great, I'm being a bit of a pest here regarding casein gesso; my persistence come from advocacy for egg tempera.

No doubt, making gesso from scratch is work, particularly a large panel. To clarify (again, primarily for beginner's sake) there are ways to mitigate and/or eliminate air bubbles: minimize agitating the gesso while making it, let prepared gesso sit in the fridge for a day or two (so it can settle down) before application, add a flow aid to the gesso, don't overheat the gesso (keep it just warm enough to stay liquid), don't have too much of a temperature difference between the panel and gesso, be attentive as you build layers, etc...

Whatever the work involved, keep in mind the benefits: As Lora points out, it is a thoughtful, meditative process. It makes you more knowledgeable of your materials and process (which, if not certainly, can potentially make you a more attentive, better painter). These are increasingly less common but perhaps worthwhile experiences. Understandably, they are not for everyone - but we tempera-philes already knew that about our medium!

I admire you following a call to paint large, Lora - I'm working on a 14 x 18" triptych and it feels like my limit (well, at least for now, maybe forever). The Death of Jack Walsh on your website is a beautiful painting. Congratulations on persisting in the challenges of a medium I know you love.


Last edited by Koo Schadler; 29-12-15 at 02:29 PM.
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