Sunday, November 7, 2010

Plans and Considerations

Here's a sketch, using my new Conte crayons, of what I'm envisioning for my first sky. Bare trees, fallen leaves, stone border, perhaps a leaf resting on the border for a trompe l'oeil effect.

A test of opaque grays for covering ability worked well. The Roman Black pigment is quite warm so a bit of Ultramarine Blue neutralized nicely. I'm putting together another pigment order, this time from Kremer, that will include German Vine Black.

An experiment using tiny pieces of sponge with earth pigments indicated that a bed of fallen leaves is possible. Again a test of opaque grays covering ability worked well.

With these tests complete, I can now focus on a smooth sky gradation and more tests of realistic stone. First attempts have been off target.

And, maintaining the rhythm of quoting from The Practice of Tempera Painting:

"This lengthy account of a simple piece of painting may well strike the reader as tedious; but the principle that it is intended to illustrate is fundamental to an understanding of the essential character of tempera paint. Tempera painting is often confused with gouache, on the one hand, and with water color on the other. The basic differences among these media boil down to questions of transparency. Tempera stands midway between transparent water color and opaque gouache, and possesses a flexibility, in consequence, which neither of the other shares. Tempera is not to be thought of as a material: it is a discipline. It is possible to temper pigments with much yolk of egg and little or no white, and to paint water color with them; or, with much white and little egg, to use the same materials for gouache. But tempera painting proper means capitalizing this special character of translucency that sufficient tempering gives to thin coats of pigments in themselves opaque. It means distinguishing the effects of opacity, produced by repeated coats of a single tone, opalescence, produced by painting a lighter tone over a darker, and transparency, produced by painting a darker tone over a lighter."

There is more to come on this subject, but at this point the question arises--is the above quoted statement regarding egg tempera's uniqueness really accurate? Katharine's comment regarding the varying properties of watercolor paints and the effects possible with mixed media watercolor and gouache certainly leaves me to wonder. In fact, even Thompson says that egg tempera is a discipline rather than a material. Interesting stuff... :-)

Thompson, Daniel V. Jr. The Practice of Tempera Painting. New York. Dover Publications. 1962. (Yale University Press. 1936.) p. 106-7.

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