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Old 19-10-08, 10:58 PM
Matt Leahy's Avatar
Matt Leahy Matt Leahy is offline
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Location: Hiawatha, Kansas
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I for one was pretty surprised when I read all the warnings about zinc. I think I first read about zinc's evils in a Natural Pigments e-article about a year ago? I'll admit I was a little scared to use zinc, and I certainly don't use it in oil paintings. I can see a difference in brittleness within a few years- I investigated some class demos I did and the zinc white is way more prone to crazing than anything else.

I spend a lot of time looking at old paintings, and if a painting is in bad shape, it seems like its usually the whites. Its hard to say if zinc is always the culprit, because traditionally the opaque white areas are painted thicker which makes those areas more vulnerable, while dark areas are often thinner overall or are applied transparently. I'm talking mostly about academic paintings, back when established technique was adhered to by artists, not modernist stuff. Thank goodness people are getting back into technical responsibility. I know I'd feel bad if a painting I sold for $1500 started cracking in a few years.

I still use zinc in tempera- its a rigid support, not a very thick buildup, and interspersed with other layers- so I'm not that worried about it. It has some qualities that other whites just cant do.

EDIT: BTW the Hopper interview was really interesting, thanks for the link!
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Old 22-10-08, 06:57 PM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: NWT, Canada
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It looks like we can breathe easy. I just heard back from Dr. Mecklenburg, and was sure to thank him... for answering this question, and because his research may have saved many paintings. (It took a little while because the first email address kept bouncing back). This is wonderful because we can feel free to work with both pigments, and it looks like one more fringe benefit to egg tempera. (-:

Hi Jennifer, sorry for the delay but I got hung up a bit. I don’t think that you will have a problem with zinc white used in tempera or casein. It will be problematic when used in alkyds however. I don’t know about Millais’ use of tempera.

Best regards,


Marion F. Mecklenburg, Ph.D.

Last edited by jpohl; 22-10-08 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 22-10-08, 07:37 PM
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JeffG JeffG is offline
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How's the painting going, Jennifer?
Jeff G
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Old 23-10-08, 03:46 PM
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paintrman paintrman is offline
Kelley Vandiver
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
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Jennifer, great news! Thank you so much for following through. What a relief.
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Old 27-10-08, 06:23 PM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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I think most of the thanks go to my friend, Jack who sent the Hopper article and encouraged me to ask a few questions. (-:

Originally Posted by JeffG View Post
How's the painting going, Jennifer?
It's happening... I finally have my youngest on a sensible schedule so I can start waking up to work before I have to tend to everyone and everything. The nice thing about egg tempera is I can do a little yoga and and paint in my pjs without getting too messy. One more way to save time. (-: Now I just have to settle into a rhythm and build momentum... I'm still working on studies trying to get a sense of the way to handle paint, and building up courage to start transferring things to panel. A lovely person who has been reading the forum for a while just sent me a copy of Koo Shadler's book that I've wanted to get after a year of collecting supplies from the four corners of the earth. (I had sent a cheque for the book, but it had been lost in the mail. ) I'm working through Koo's class notes have already gleaned a lot, and will no doubt will have many more questions. (-: Seeing the light in her work is half the reason I've been drawn to egg tempera, and that the book/class notes were a gift makes it even more meaningful. My lighting should arrive any day now. I'm pretty excited to be in the swing of things again... hopefully the solux lighting will make it easier to wake up in the dark and I'll even be a happier painter if the claims of light therapy are anything to go by. Real gesso were even kind enough to send me two decent size panels to beta test international shipping by usps, which worked out really well. I'll have to do something really wonderful on them to help pay for more panels.. but it will be very freeing to afford to spend more on the panels than shipping from now on. Hoping my dispersions won't dry out in the fridge, but I'll get used to mulling colours now and then and see how it compares.

all the best, jp

p.s. will be sure to share the work and show what I've done with all the advice and encouragment, but it will be another while before I'm ready for copy work.

Last edited by jpohl; 27-10-08 at 06:27 PM.
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