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What is Tempera

Tempera means a paint that the pigment is tempered (mixed) with a water based medium, this is generally egg yolk. The egg tempera is applied to a surface that is smooth for example vellum. The more common use is on hardwood panels. These hardwood panels are prepared with gesso, this is a mixtures of chalk and size, size is a term for a type of glue.

Hog hair brushes are used when applying the gesso. A layer of gesso is applied and then followed with a fine layer of gesso, this process creates a smooth and absorbent surface.

Paint is then applied with thin brushes and thin layers. The tempera dries very quickly and forms a tough skin with a satin look.

Overall the process of applying the gesso creates a crisp painting with rich colours.

Examples of Tempera Use's