Practice of Tempera Painting: Materials and Methods


Tempera painting, the method in which colors are mixed with some binding material other than oil (primarily egg yolk), is the earliest type of painting known to man. The wall paintings of ancient Egypt and Babylon are tempera, as are many of the paintings of Giotto, Lippi, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, and many other masters. But in spite of the time-proven excellence of this technique — which boasts many clear advantages over oil paint — it does not receive the ...

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The Practice of Tempera Painting

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Tempera painting, the method in which colors are mixed with some binding material other than oil (primarily egg yolk), is the earliest type of painting known to man. The wall paintings of ancient Egypt and Babylon are tempera, as are many of the paintings of Giotto, Lippi, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, and many other masters. But in spite of the time-proven excellence of this technique — which boasts many clear advantages over oil paint — it does not receive the degree of attention from modern painters that it deserves.
Part of the explanation for this neglect, surely, is the absence of sufficient information about the materials and procedures involved in tempera painting. The present volume, in fact, is virtually the only complete, authoritative, step-by-step treatment of the subject in the English language, D.V. Thompson wrote this book after an exhaustive study, over many years, of countless medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the British Museum and elsewhere, and is unquestionably the world's leading authority on tempera materials and processes.
Beginning with an introductory chapter on the uses and limitations of tempera, the author covers such topics as the choice of material for the panel; propensities of various woods; preparing the panel for gilding; making the gesso mixture; methods of applying the gesso; planning the design of a tempera painting; use of tinted papers; application of metals to the panel; tools for gliding; handling and laying gold; combination gold and silver leafing; pigments and brushes; choice of palette; mixing the tempera; tempering and handling the colors; techniques of the actual painting; mordant gilding; permanence of tempera painting; varnishing; and artificial emulsion painting. The drawings and diagrams, illustrating the various materials and techniques, infinitely increase the clarity of the discussions.
As a careful exposition of all aspects of authentic tempera painting, including many of the possible modern uses for this ancient method, this book actually stands alone. No one who is interested in tempera painting as a serious pursuit can afford to be without it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486203430
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/1/1962
  • Series: Dover Art Instruction Series
  • Pages: 141
  • Sales rank: 810,667
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.35 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Table of Contents

I Uses and Limitations of the Tempera
    Tempera painting a strict discipline
    Tendencies in modern painting
    The media of the future
    The limitations of tempera painting
    Normal scale
    Factors in naturalistic painting
    A critical approach
II Carriers and Grounds
    Properties of wood
    Effects of humidity
    Selection and conditioning of woods
    Casein glue for joining
    Precautions against warping
    Wood pulp boards
    Preparation of panels
    The standard size solution
    Sizing the panel
    Applying moldings and ornaments
    The second sizing
    The intelaggio
    The simplest gesso
    The secret of success
    Application of the gesso
    An alternative method
    Scraping the gesso
    How to test the scraping
    Stoning down a flat
    Qualities of good gesso
    Gessoing frames
    Cennino's gesso
    Parchment size
    Gesso grosso
    Gesso sottile
    Mixing the thin gesso
    The perfection of the method
III Methods of Drawing
    Designing for tempera
    Preliminary studies
    Form drawing
    Tinted papers
    Drawing instruments
    Brush drawing
    Modeling up the lights
    Transferring the cartoon
    Drawing on the panel
    Importance of the monochrome rendering
    Incising the outlines
IV Applications of Metals
    Metals in the design
    Bole for gilding
    Mixing and applying the bole
    How much to put on
    Polishing the bole
    Gliding with glair
    Tools for gilding
    The gilder's cushion
    The knife
    The gilder's tip
    Qualities of gold leaf
    Handling the leaf
    The use of the knife and cushion
    Cutting the leaf
    The use of the tip
    Laying the gold
    The order of gilding
    Varieties of burnisher
    Stamping and graining
    Punch cutting
    Graining pastiglia
    Patterns in color and gold
    "Combination Gold and Silver Leafing"
V Pigments and Brushes
    Function of pigments
    Natural and artificial colors
    The colored earths
    Individual pigment characters
    Palettes for tempera
    Transparent pigments
    Shell gold
    The choice of a palette
    Grinding the colors
    Storing the ground colors for use
    Dishes for mixing
    The choice of brushes
    Care of brushes
VI Painting
    Mixing the tempera
    Tempering the colors
    Reserves of color
    Liquidity of the mixture
    Handling the color
    Basic principles of tempera painting
    Control of form
    The function of the monochrome drawing
    The order of painting
    A hypothetical case
    Mixing values
    Applying the tones
    Glazing over the scumble
    Tempera vs. gouache and water color
    Painting drapery and other objects
    Development of the forms
    Systematic value mixing essential
    Variations of color systems
    Treatment of surface effects
    Painting flesh
    Painting hair
    Variations of method
    Final embellishments
    Water mordants
    Oil mordants
    Applying the mordant
VII Varnishing and Framing
    Permanence of tempera painting
    Importance of varnishing
    Cleaning the surface
    Precautions against dust and damp
    Choice and care of the varnish brush
    Applying the varnish
    Flatting the surface
    Function of a frame
    Matte gilding
    Water matte
    Oil matte
    Skewing down
    Frame edges
    Other frame materials
VIII Artificial Emulsion Painting
    Unlimited possibilities
    A basic formula
    Casein emulsions
    Underpainting for oil
    Preparation of wall surfaces
  "Tempera Practice in the Yale Art School," by Professor Lewis E. York"
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