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Old 05-04-13, 06:19 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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Default Impasto

Have any of you tried using ET with a commercial watercolor impasto medium? How did I turn out? Did it crack?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Thanks
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  #2  
Old 07-04-13, 06:44 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Hi Salamander,

This is a fun question. I don't know...

As far as I understand (and my understanding is no doubt incomplete - there's always more to learn) there are two reasons not to work impasto in egg tempera. One is that because tempera initially dries through water evaporation, which happens relatively quickly, the paint shrinks quickly - and so if applied too thickly, it tends to crack as the water evaporates and the paint contracts (I've seen it myself, on a layer about the thickness of 1/16" - never mind impasto).

The other reason is that ET grows quite brittle with age (hence the necessity of a rigid support) and the thicker the paint, the greater the likelihood that as it ages it might crack. For the above reasons, I'd be wary. But, as mentioned, I don't know. I'm asking around to see if I can learn more.

In the meantime, there is always the potential for working with an egg oil emulsion, or with oil, atop your tempera to work up more opacity as needed. I know, not the same as the idea you are proposing, but a possibility.

Koo
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Old 09-04-13, 03:46 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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I once had a tube of W&N's Aquapasto that I had tossed in the back of my paint drawer and forgotten about. When I opened the tube a few years later I found the gel changed to a dark shade of ugly brown. I learned that the main ingredient was gum tragacanth, which I believe is the main thickener agent used in other brands also, and the likely cause of the discoloring. Your mileage may vary.

I have no real reason to use it since there are less risky ways to get a sort of impasto result with paints of other mediums.
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Old 09-04-13, 08:13 PM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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I wonder if I could mix some 200 grit silica with the et and perhaps a little gum arabic????? I don't mean to get real thick impasto, just thicker than real thin :)
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Old 14-04-13, 05:49 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Hello Salamander,

Actual impasto, as achieved in oil, is likely unattainable in egg tempera. However if, as you say, you aren't looking for "really thick" impasto, it is possible to get a thicker paint in tempera. Here's how I do it without getting the crackling that can come when the paint dries and shrinks too quickly (as I described in my first reply to this posting). Its a little tricky to explain (it'd be much better to show you...I"ll try to snap a picture next time I do it) so please bear with me...

Whatever percentage of water is added to make an egg yolk medium and/or pigment paste, that water is going to eventually evaporate. This means you can add any percentage of water you want to either your medium or pigment pastes. As long as, disregarding whatever amount of water is added, in the end you have about equal parts egg yolk to pigment in your paint, you are tempering the paint properly.

I mention this because sometimes the ratio of egg yolk to water in egg yolk medium is presented as an inflexible number; i.e. it must be 1 part egg yolk to 1 part water, or 1 part egg yolk to 2 parts water. Both of these common formulations make fairly watery mediums (like milk) and hence thin paint. Nothing wrong with that...but not the only way to work. My preference is to start with 2 parts egg yolk to 1 part water. This makes for a thicker medium, and consequently a thicker paint - about the consistency of cream. I usually end up thinning this paint with water quite a bit as I work, but sometimes I dip right into the cream-like paint.

However, if you apply too many layers too quickly of this cream-like paint, you risk shrinkage and cracking. So let the paint sit on the palette for a while...if not spritzed with water, it starts to thicken even more, on its own (but because its within a puddle of paint on the palette, so to speak, it doesn't crack). You then can dip into this thicker paint and, at some point, get paint about the consistency, more or less, of sour cream (dairy analogies are all I can think...).

You have to be careful how much of a dab of this sort of paint you can apply - as mentioned, I'm not suggesting oil-like impasto highlights. But still it is a much more substantial paint than the watery layers of egg tempera commonly used. If the paint is too thick, cracking shows up within an hour or few days of the paint drying - so with practice you learn how far you can take it. And while always important to work on a rigid surface in tempera (due to its brittleness) working with paint such as this makes it especially important to have the proper support and ground underneath.

What I just described may sound anathema to egg tempera, but I've been doing this for twenty years with no ill effects. Again, I'm not saying that oil-like impasto is possible; only that you can more opacity and texture than egg tempera is sometimes credited with.

Koo
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Old 15-04-13, 01:33 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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Thanks Koo, so letting a thicker paint dry a wee bit would do the trick right?
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Old 15-04-13, 01:47 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Well...hmm...this is hard to explain verbally! I don't want to steer you wrong, into too much impasto. Suffice to say that as long as you have, more or less, equal ratios of egg yolk to pigment in your paint, you can add little or no water to that mix - and from that you would obviously get a denser paint than one in which there is lots of water. Experiment in applying this thicker paint, to see what you can get away with....if you apply too thick a blob, or build up too many layers too rapidly, you absolutely could get cracking (been there, done that). But you can get more opacity, density, and (dare I say...) minimal impasto in tempera than is sometimes supposed if you apply just the right amount of this "thicker" paint.

The trick of letting a thicker paint dehydrate a wee bit (I've avoiding the word "dry" because obviously you don't want to apply dry paint) before applying it can help to some degree. It just takes experimentation, practice and attentiveness to see what the paint allows.

Have fun! I love the etherial thinness of tempera, but I also love getting a bit of opacity, in the highlights, on top of a gazillion thin layers - the contrast is exciting.

Koo
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Old 15-04-13, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salamander View Post
Thanks Koo, so letting a thicker paint dry a wee bit would do the trick right?
When painting thickly, I sometimes find it useful to mix in Kaolin -- it brings the paint closer to gouache, especially for transparent dark pigments.

Kaolin supposedly strengthens the paint film and should give it some resistance to cracking.
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Old 16-04-13, 02:20 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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"Kaolin supposedly strengthens the paint film and should give it some resistance to cracking."
Very interesting idea!!
Thanks!!
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