Original Egg Tempera Paintings by Lon Mercier

Select paintings are now available in Giclee form. Click images to the left for details.

Egg tempera is one of the oldest painting media and a rare art form today. Egg tempera was in popular use until the Renaissance, when it was supplanted by oil paint.

Tempera painting is done upon a white gessoed panel, which ensures a glass-like surface, necessary for fine detail work. To develop the form of the painting and establish the range of values, the artist:

  • develops the composition on paper
  • transfers this image to the gessoed panel
  • renders the image in black and white using India ink
  • coats the panel with an umber wash
 

 

The umber wash creates a unifying midtone value.

Next, paint application begins, as
Lon is doing in the photo to the right.
  

Lon painting
         
All paints are hand mixed, using a combination of distilled water, egg yolk, and pure powdered pigments, which are ground to a paste. The correct proportion of water, egg yolk, and pigment is critical to ensure painting integrity. Lon mixing pigments

The use of egg yolk as a binder creates a luminous quality unique to tempera paintings.

No other medium can match the glow of a beautifully painted tempera.

         

Lon painting

Finally, the colors of a tempera are built up, with ten to twenty glazes in certain areas.

In the picture to the left we see Lon modeling the old house in various tones of gray.

         

Since tempera paintings are framed without glass, there is never a reflection. This also allows the painting to "breathe".

Though dry to the touch, tempera paintings have a slow curing rate, and should be treated with care. Once cured, a tempera will historically outlast an oil painting. Colors do not crack or yellow, and the images remain vivid and pristine for centuries.

To care for your painting, lightly dust it occasionally with a soft cloth. We recommend that you not touch your painting.


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December 12, 2005 © Mercier Fine Art
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