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Tempera Painting

Tempera is a temporary, semi-permanent, fast drying, translucent painting medium made from pigmented pigments dissolved in a water-based binder base, typically glutinous substance like egg white. Tempera also refers to the painted images done on this medium. Over the past few decades it has become a very popular way of painting both interior and exterior scenes, including portraits, landscapes, advertising art, and pop art. The popularity has resulted in Tempera paintings being produced in a wide range of sizes, with some artists creating large-scale, museum quality works.

There are several different methods for preparing a piece of tempera painting on a canvas. The most traditional method is to prepare a solid, smooth and flat back-and-forth layer of paint over the surface of a wooden panel. This is done by applying the paint in a smooth, even application and allowing it to dry for the time specified by the manufacturer. After the paint has dried sufficiently, a second, slightly thicker layer can be applied using a cotton rag, sponge or a brush to cover and dampen the paint to prevent it from spattering or splintering.

The composition of the paint is then applied using a spatula, brush or a combination of the two to uniformly distribute the colors on the surface of the canvas. The painting is allowed to dry completely before completing a series of detailed or intricate images. Depending on the desired look and finish, different methods are used to prime the canvas. In general, the process of applying tempera painting onto a canvas is fairly straightforward, although there are specific methods that may differ depending on the type of paint and the type of canvas. Some of the most common methods include:

Gesso – this method of application originated in the renaissance but was later adopted by the artists of Europe in the fifteenth century. Gesso is a medium that produces excellent results with little drying time. It is similar to the texture or feel of sand and is often mixed with water. The most popular medium for doni (tempera painting) is glazes made from ground limestone or clay.

Pottery or Lead Pen – The most commonly used medium in tempera painting is a combination of glaze and pigment. When glazing is applied to a flat surface, the end result is a textured surface that ranges from matte to shiny. The most commonly used pigments are linseed oil and a mineral called calcite. In paintings done with this method, the term “pottery” refers to either the textured surface or the flat surface of the painting. The most popular method of using this technique is called the poplar panel method.

Softness of the tone – This is a very important quality in tempera painting. The blending of the different hues of pigment can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For instance, one color can be extracted through thinning the other, a process known as selvage. Different textures and depths of colors can also be achieved through blending, which is accomplished using multiple thin layers of paint applied with a soft brush.

Wetness of the palette – Many modern artists prefer to use wet mediums instead of gesso because it allows for quicker drying time. Wet mediums include glazes, oils and acrylic paints, and many artists find that this yields richer, deeper tones of color. The dry mediums such as gesso and oil are less preferred by many artists because of slow drying time and texture changes during application.

Temperate paintings come across as vibrant and life-like because of their ability to capture the viewer's attention and create layers of color within the painting. The application of paint is done carefully and controlled with the perfect strokes of the brush. Colors and hues are generally opaque or semi-opaque, creating subtle variations that are often blended seamlessly within the larger scheme of colors. Most artists begin their project with just one or two colors, and gradually add more as they feel comfortable. Some techniques used in tempera painting include: glazing, chipping, brush working, and light and dark areas.

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