What is Egg Tempera Painting?

The term “tempera” comes from temper or tempering, which means to bring something to a desired, or usable, consistency. In this case, the something is a pigment. Egg tempera is one of the oldest, most versatile, and most durable methods of painting that was used in the Renaissance and earlier, before oil painting was invented.
It is a painting process that uses egg yolk to bind pigments to a hard wood surface covered with a ground called “gesso”, comprised of rabbit skin glue and calcium carbonate (chalk). The artist must manufacture the paints himself by the simple process of mixing finely ground pigment, water and diluted egg yolk. A drop of vinegar is used to prevent the egg from spoiling during the painting process which has a feeling of thick watercolor. The outcome is a vibrant beautiful color that has lasted and will last for centuries.