Let me begin by saying that the MonaLisa Gessoed Art Board by Speedball does not offer a proper ground for egg tempera.
Gesso is a much maligned term these days, referring to grounds from gypsum or calcite bound with hide glue, to 100% acrylic dispersion polymer, and sadly over to various acrylic concoctions with no proper claim at all to this term. This last monstrosity coats my "gessoed" board. In all fairness though, the product's packaging does not specifically state use for egg tempera. I could be a bit guilty of making leaps in my excitement to get started.
Last night I knew I was in trouble when my palm lifted dried tempera right off the surface. Using the tip of my palette knife I could push the pigment loose. As a rank beginner, I thought I'd do a bit of research before coming to hysterical conclusions. I hit the books late last night and again this morning. Long story short, I have every right to hysteria and Natural Pigments can satisfy every possible need for me to practice egg tempera in true fashion. Leaving out the details of the hows and whys for now (they will come once I have regrouped), here is my order list:
Product ID: 209-002
Product Name: Basic Dispersion Set
Product Price: $70.00
Product ID: 920-BP0912
Product Name: Birch Panel (9 x 12 in.)
Product Price: $12.25
Product ID: 510-11CHK1K
Product Name: Chalk (Fine Ground Calcite 1 kg)
Product Price: $6.85
Product ID: 510-12ESGXX
Product Name: Easy Gesso Extra-Fine (500 g)
Product Price: $13.50
Product ID: 926-HB0912
Product Name: Gesso Panel, Hardboard (9 X 12 in.)
Product Price: $9.15
Product ID: 624-2190
Product Name: Half Pans (10/Pack)
Product Price: $2.95
Product ID: 510-21RSGL5
Product Name: Rabbit Skin Glue (500 g)
Product Price: $12.50
Product ID: 651-SFKN080
Product Name: Surface Knife (80 mm wide)
Product Price: $8.00
Please note that the glue listed here is not really from bunnies (although in some cases may) but a trade term for high quality hide glue. That somehow makes me feel a bit better, although am thinking that a good acrylic ground may be in my future.
The pans are for my watercolor adventures, an experimental alternative to tubes.
So although my ground proved unusable, I did gain experience with my paint. There seems to be a sweet spot between too eggy and too watery, something like not too sticky and goopy on the brush, and too wet to lay down precisely. Even on that non-stick surface, I could reach a point where the tempera would flow nicely in a stunningly fine line. I used brush sizes 1, 0, and 00. Below is a closeup of an area where I used fine strokes in an attempt to simulate translucent and tiny veining. Note the example of pigment literally sliding across the support.