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Old 01-01-18, 02:37 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 318

Hi Rebecca

Not sure if I understand your question, but here are a few thoughts. If your binder/medium is 1 part yolk + slightly less 1 part oil than you are making a water-soluble, egg oil emulsion. The correct ratio between binder and pigment for egg oil emulsions is about 1 part binder:1 part pigment - so combining equal parts of your binder/medium with white pigment is correct.

To thin the viscosity of this paint, DO NOT add more binder/medium (either yolk, oil, or the two combined) - that will throw off the correct ratio of binder to pigment you’ve achieved. Instead, add more water to thin the paint. Whatever water is added will evaporate, leaving behind medium/binder and pigment in the proper ratio. Add as much or little water as you like to affect the working properties of the paint.

Thinner, watered-down paint makes less dense, less opaque, less pronounced marks – so you should be able to make more subtle highlights with a thinner paint.

You are correct that an egg oil emulsion dries quickly (like pure egg tempera) and does not allow for physical pushing around or physical blending of the paint. To understand this, and not lift by overworking an area, and instead create "optical blending" through other means is perhaps the biggest challenge for newcomers. There are different ways to go about optical blending, such as crosshatching; or applying such very thin paint layers that they leave barely visible marks; or using sponges; or whatever means you figure out that gives desirable results.

The purpose of this forum is to talk tempera, not promote, so I don't generally reference my website, but in this instance I have a handout (too long to post here) available for free download at:

It explains, in depth with accompanying photos, how I “blend” in tempera. It’s by no means the only way to work in tempera, it’s just my way – but at least it will give you some idea of how one tempera artist has come to terms with the challenge of blending in egg tempera. Forum moderators, if I have overstepped by posting this link, feel free to edit.

Every accomplished painter I know arrived at his or her working method through MANY, MANY hours of attentive, inquisitive painting. So experiment, play, and be persistent - if egg tempera speaks to you, eventually you will come to understand the nature of the paint and how to make it behave (more or less!) on your terms.

Good luck,


Last edited by Koo Schadler; 01-01-18 at 06:25 PM.
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