Blue Crowned Mot-Mot

by Mindy on February 27, 2012

in 52/52 Challenge, Bird Art, Costa Rica, Uncategorized, Watercolor Tips

52/52 Painting Challenge – Painting #8

The Blue Crowned Mot-Mot

For this painting challenge I combined watercolor with egg yolk. I took a class in egg tempera from American-born Suzanne Scherer and Russian-born Pavel Ouporov in 2004 at the New York Botanical Garden. I absolutely loved it. The major issue I had when using egg tempera, was not the egg, but the pigments. I purchased a bunch of raw pigments in powder form. In order to create a paint, the pigment must be mixed with the egg solution in order for the paint to adhere to the paper. The particles of pigment are very fine in most cases, similar to baby powder. When I was making the paint a lot of the pigment went airborne and a fine coating of dust was all over the place. Luckily the pigment I was using was Pthalo Green, which is not hazardous. I quickly decided that I did not want to go through the expense and hassle of creating a dust free box to mix the paints. I gave away all my pigments and decided to go with an alternative. I had heard that it was possible to add egg yolk to watercolor. In this painting I did just that. In order to mix the egg I had to first crack open the egg and discard the egg white. Then very carefully I pierced the egg yolk and holding onto the membrane the yolk emptied out into a bowl, leaving me holding just the membrane. It takes a few times to get the knack of it. It is easier to do than it sounds. Once I had the pure yolk I added some water and a bit of vinegar. I then put it into a small squeeze bottle and instead of adding water to my watercolor paints I added the yolk solution. It worked very effectively. I was able to create the patina that is inherent in egg tempera with out the danger or mess of using raw pigments.

To see Scherer-Ouporov's work, visit their website. They do the most incredible work. I don't think I will ever be a full time egg tempera painter but it is fun to stray off the beaten path once in a while and try something new.

To read more information about the Blue Crowned Mot-Mot here is a link to a post I did a few weeks back.

Have any of you tried egg tempera? If so, what has been your experience?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sketchbook Squirrel February 28, 2012 at 1:35 am

What a great story. I have heard of egg tempera but never really thought about how it's made, now I know! Sounds like a mad cookery recipe but what a fantastic result. The colours are so rich and vibrant with not a whiff of the initial eggyness. :) 

Mindy February 28, 2012 at 6:41 am

Thanks Jarnie. It is a fun process. It is much like doing a watercolor and an oil painting at the same time. I keep the egg solution in the fridge. It lasts for about 2 weeks and then gets really stinky. If I am not done with the painting I have to mix another solution.

Amy March 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm

This sounds really interesting and the results are wonderful.  How much does the yellow color of the yoke effect the watercolor pigments?  Were you using tube or pans?  

Mindy March 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Hi Amy,
The yellow of the yoke does nothing to the color of the pigment. I know that it seems like it should but after the liquid evaporates all is left is a lovely patina. Try it and let me know what results you get!

Eileen March 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Beautiful painting!  I have tried Daler-Rowney egg tempera on a few different grounds and was consistently disappointed by the lifelessness/flatness of the colors.  I put the paints away.  However, I'd love to try what you've done.  About how much water and vinegar did you use per yolk?  

Mindy March 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Eileen – I used Daler-Rowney egg tempera and it was awful. The consistency of the egg solution should be like whole milk. It should have some body to it. Let me know how it works for you. Good luck!

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