So I pulled my finger out and finished off this painting, my first attempt at teaching myself Egg Tempera. It is Ada Lovelace, who did a bunch of the maths that underpins computing. So I gave her an x-box controller to hold. For the simple reason that we have one therefore I could figure out how to draw it.
I based the picture I did on the portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon. Turns out Ada didn’t reply to my letters or messages asking her to sit with me….I guess she was too busy…
Typical, my scanner exploded just as I wanted to scan this in to get better detail. Oh well, a photo will do.
Life has been hectic and completing this got pushed to the back of the queue. I also had to scrape out the eyes and totally redo them, somehow I had lost the under drawing and made her totally weird looking. I was dreading doing it, it only took a really small amount of time. Tempera can be removed down to the gesso very readily, it turns out. The ink under drawing was still very clear when i removed bits of her face.
What have I learned from this first go of Egg Tempera?
Thinner layers, thinned down – i lost the under painting almost immediately. Next time I will try a slow buildup of colour on colour.
Don’t glop it on or it goes crusty. I made the background crusty by making the ochre mix too thick.
Grind your pigment and keep it moist in a little jar, take out a tiny amount as you need it and mix it with egg as you go for the correct consistency, else you waste a lot. By the end I was only using miniscule amounts of pigment. I followed advice originally of mixing it up with white in different amounts to get different grades – this is not how I paint and I’d not do that again, just mix it with egg on the pallet as I go.
This is good for very painstaking, exacting work, which I have utterly NOT been in the mood to do lately. Hence it took so long!
The smaller the brush, the better. Cross hatching can be fun, you have to have an almost dry brush though. Getting that right will be a skill.
This took forever and multiple goes over multiple sessions. There is a build up of paint.
I think I started to get the hang of it in the last few goes. At times I really enjoyed this process, so this is why I only worked on it when I was in the mood for it.
I have three more prepared boards and plans for two of them….I should think about getting cracking with the next ones!
All the posts in this series:
Egg tempera I – preparing the panels
Egg tempera II – transferring the picture
Egg tempera III – Grinding the pigment
Egg tempera IV – inking and cross hatching
Egg tempara VI – laying down real colour
Egg tempera VII – finished Painting