Experimenting with Egg Tempera
Senior Curator Christine Brindza, Glasser Curator of Art of the American West, discusses Andrew Wyeth’s preference for egg tempera paint and the effects he achieved. Watch the full video below.
For many artists, egg tempera was a primary method of painting until the 16th century, when the invention of oil painting replaced it. The Wyeths: Three Generations | Works from the Bank of America Collection, currently on view, showcases some examples of paintings done in this medium.
In the 1920s Peter Hurd studied with N.C. Wyeth. Hurd experimented with egg tempera medium in the 1930s, and he shared his techniques with N. C. and Andrew Wyeth. In this exhibition, we can see works by Andrew Wyeth that use the medium to capture the light in his paintings, which inspired TMA staff to learn more about egg tempera.
Close examination of On the Edge (2001) reveals flecks of vibrant colors that bring life to a color palette that appears, from a distance, to be quite subdued. The layering of color adds dimension to the image.
Andrew Wyeth, On the Edge (detail), 2001, tempera on panel. Bank of America Collection.
© 2020 Andrew Wyeth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Try creating your own tempera paint. Try different pigments. What works best for you? With your paint, are you aiming for a grainy or textured finish or just a smooth one? Also, be sure to test your paint on various surfaces. How will the surface affect the finished product? The Wyeths painted on various surfaces from canvas to cardboard, and each finished painting has a different feel.
What you’ll need:
- Pigments: try turmeric, liquid watercolor, charcoal or chalk pastels
- Bowls (one per color)
- Whisk or fork
The Wyeths were inspired by their local landscapes and environments. Create your landscape of your surrounding area using different paint techniques of application. What inspires you? Share your work on social media by using #TMAFreeFirstThursday.
Wednesday – Sunday,
10 am – 5 pm