Egg Tempera Forums

Go Back   Egg Tempera Forums > The Forums > The Forum for Tempera Painting Issues

The Forum for Tempera Painting Issues Sharing the knowledge and experience of fellow tempera painters.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-02-09, 12:31 AM
jeff's Avatar
jeff jeff is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 214
Default Distemper

For those of you out there who may not have tried this I would highly recommend giving it a go. Distemper, which is using the warmed up rabbit skin glue that is used in the gesso as a painting medium, is very compatible with egg tempera, as you can imagine. Using it for underpainting it produces very brilliant colour in the final egg tempera painting. It is not very hard to apply, but you do need to keep it warm while you use it. I have an old electric frying pan set on warm or very low and use a metal palette on top. I keep a jar of the medium in the pan at the same time and it stays nicely liquid.

It is very good at doing large areas of flat colour, which many find difficult in egg tempera, and will paint very accurate detail. You can dilute it to a large degree with water (treat it like egg tempera in this regard) and apply it in thin veils of transparent colour. It sets very quickly.

It's perfectly OK to do an entire painting in distemper, and they are excellent in terms of aging. One advantage over egg tempera is that it is possible to use distemper on raw canvas, though not in any thick buildup (it is really just coloured gesso after all).
Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-09, 01:44 PM
PhilS's Avatar
PhilS PhilS is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Sargentville, Maine
Posts: 222

When I first saw the headline I thought you were "disillusioned" with tempera...
I can't believe I've never heard of this before. An interesting idea. It probably wouldn't work as a final glaze (to bring up the intensity of colors) because it would have a different sheen than the ET. But I can see how, as an underpainting, it would be more brilliant than the tempered medium.
I may just give it a try.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-09, 09:08 PM
Dennis H's Avatar
Dennis H Dennis H is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Auburn, AL, USA
Posts: 177

Phil and Jeff,
Many works by Toulouse-Lautrec were painted in distemper on cardboard. Vuillard used it, too. It really is a nice looking medium.

Last edited by Dennis H; 11-02-09 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Corrected typos from mobile phone keypad mistakes.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-09, 04:44 PM
mona's Avatar
mona mona is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 205

Neat idea, thanks Jeff!
Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-09, 09:43 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 317

Hey Phil,

I've heard of rabbit skin glue being used as a kind of varnish on tempera - so I think you could use it to glaze some final color atop a tempera. I'm trying to think why not....I believe its more flexible than egg yolk, so the fat over lean rule isn't violated. You are right that the shine would be different, but if you don't mind the glue look you could finish the whole piece with it to even out things. I think.
Reply With Quote
Old 19-03-09, 12:12 AM
John's Avatar
John John is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 16

Like most vehicles in paint, the discolouration they would have on their own is generally masked by a proper proportion of pigment. A solution of RSG highly diluted can appear very clear when applied to a painting though I'm fairly sure with age any unevenness in it's application will show in uneven yellowing patterns.
Reply With Quote

canvas, distemper, flat color, glue, underpaint

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 05:59 AM.
Design modifications, graphics and CSS by RobM
June 2010

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.