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Old 25-03-09, 03:01 PM
Nina Nina is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 5
Question a few questions from a newbie to egg tempera!

Hello everyone! I am new to egg tempera and am hoping you might be able to help me with a few questions!
1. Do you sand and polish your gesso surface so it loses it's absorbancy and becomes hard and ivory-like in texture before you begin your painting with egg tempera or do you leave the surface porus and matt in texture?
2. How long do you need to leave the paint to dry/cure before buffing it lightly?
3. What do you use to buff the painting with?
4. how long does it take for any cracks to appear if you have mistakenly used a mixture that is too rich in egg yolk?
Thanks in advance for any info!!!
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Old 26-03-09, 01:40 PM
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cmunisso cmunisso is offline
Italian painter
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Roma - Italia
Posts: 34

Very good questions for a newbie !

I try to reply....

1) I sand my gesso because I like paint on a ivory-like surface, but this not loses it's absorbancy, there are other ways to decrease the absorbancy.

2) I don't buff the surface of the painting, eventually I use to varnish it, and the time to dry is at least 6 months.

3) see above...

4) I put a great attention to avoid mistakes (....LOL...) and I don't have crack problems.
I use a traditional way to paint as a good gesso ground, many thin layers of paint, an exact quantity of tempera. This avoids any crack problem.

Care-patience-accuracy is a must for a good tempera painter, the experience is a result of this.
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Old 26-03-09, 09:45 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 318

Hello Newbie, Welcome to tempera!

The questions about buffing have been discussed pretty well in the recent postings on "Acid" by Steven in the forum.

Regarding the absorbency of your true gesso ground, that is determined to a large degree by the ingredients of the gesso. Specifically, the percentage of rabbit skin glue in our gesso. The more glue you have relative to your inert white substance (i.e. your chalk or gypsum, whichever one you choose to make your gesso - both work), the harder your surface will be (and less absorbent); and conversely, the less glue relative to your i.w.s., the more absorbent. Also, you can add some percentage of titanium white (up to about 10%) to your i.w.s. to increase the reflective properties of the ground, and adding titanium white will also soften the ground.

Whether you want a perfectly smooth (like ivory) or rougher ground is mostly a matter of personal preference. Because so many et artists do refined, detailed work they generally like to get it pretty smooth - but you could certainly work on a rough ground, and even scratch and texture it to some degree.

Last edited by Koo Schadler; 28-03-09 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 26-03-09, 09:48 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 318

Mmm... I should add that at some point too much rabbit skin glue in your ground, i.e. too hard a gesso, will lead to cracking; and too soft a ground (not enough glue) will result in a crumbly, unstable gesso. When you mix your glue to water, the ratio can fall somewhere between 1 part glue to 11 parts water (a very hard gesso) up to, perhaps, 1 part glue to 24 parts water (a very soft gesso). Those are approximations - the most common ratio is probably 1 part glue to 16 parts water.
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