Examples of Painting Techniques:

Tempera: The pigment is suspended in egg yolk. As you may have experienced, when dry, egg yolk becomes very glassy and hard. And so, when color is suspended in the yolk, the color will become more intense and durable. Below are two examples by Andrew Wyeth Braids, 1979, and Virgin, 1969. The most important aspect of tempera is the thickness of the egg yolk. Not only is it a very slow and careful process in order to control the thick paint but artists must use very small brushes to avoid the paint from clumping or globing up. Back in the 15th century, some artists used brushes with only three or four hairs in order to maintain control.




However, due to the slow and deliberate manipulation of the paint, the artist is able to achieve the ultimate in detail, especially in recording the texture of hair, skin, and fabric. In these examples, we can see each strand of hair, even the fly away hairs silhouetted against the blank background, and their eyelashes. In Virgin, body hair is detailed. Clothing fivers are sharply defined. Form definition and detailing are superb. But, what effect does tempera have on color? While common belief is that suspending the pigment in egg yolk does not impact the color tone, I disagree. It is impossible to achieve a pure white in tempera. Rather than white, areas look more vanilla.

In the paintings by Wyeth, skin is yellowish and sunlight is more golden than white. Rather than achieving high value areas of white, the high value areas are off-white. Advantages? Detail, due to the very slow process. The final paintings even rival photographs for their ability to record in detail the appearances of physical objects. Disadvantages? Colors are not true.