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Old 22-02-10, 11:15 PM
briancorll briancorll is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
Posts: 23
Default Tempera remains Soluble, Lifts from Gesso

I'm an experienced painter but am using egg tempera for the first time. I have a large selection (about 35 colors) of dry pigments. I have ground about a dozen with distilled water and am working on my first painting. I am using a poplar panel with Gamblin's gesso mix. For starters, I am glazing my colors on (I'm doing a landscape) on the sky areas, mountainous areas, water, etc. to establish midtones. My binder is a 1:1 solution of egg:distilled water. When I glaz over the midtones with a darker tone to establish shadows, a significant portion of the midtone glaze lifts, exposing the gesso in some cases. I have a few ideas why this might be, but I'd like to hear from others who perhaps may already be able to pinpoint the problem. Any help appreciated. TIA !
Brian Corll
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Old 22-02-10, 11:45 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 417

It sounds like you've got the right materials set up. It is possible that your problem is you're painting with fairly wet paint over paint that has not had time to cure yet. A layer of egg tempera needs a little drying time before you can paint wet or vigorously over it.

I find you can drybrush gently immediately over a tempera layer once the water has evaporated, and drybrush more vigorously after a day's drying. You can paint a single wet layer over paint dry a day or two, but if you want to work over the paint more thoroughly, you have to give it up to a week to dry first. After a month you can do nearly anything and you won't budge the paint (This isn't recommended practice, it's just something I found out with a long-neglected half-done painting).

Of course, I don't know for sure if this is your problem; but it is one of the things tempera painters learn about its temperament.
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Old 23-02-10, 12:55 AM
briancorll briancorll is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Mechanicsburg, PA
Posts: 23

Thanks, Alessandra. I had this notion of egg tempera as being a fast-drying medium that could be worked over in just a short time, like acrylics, but apparently it takes a bit longer to polymerize than I thought. I found another thread here (should have looked there first) which addresses the issue of not using a brush that is too wet. I started with my Kolinsky sables but have found that actually the synthetic Taklon brushes work better, at least in the beginning. The Kolinksies would be the way to go for later detail work, I suppose, but for underpainting and glazing the Taklon seems to work very nicely.
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