Why I Mix Oil Paint with Egg Yolk
Many of my paintings are built around the colour yellow. When it says in the caption: oil / egg tempera, one has the (false) idea that the egg yolk creates the yellow colour, but the colour of the yolk bleaches out in a few weeks!

The egg as binding medium was already known in antiquity. Then, the egg yolk was thinned with water and added to the paint, then applied on the walls. Later, it was also used on panels. In order to make the egg yolk more liquid, they followed an old Italian recipe and added the juice of young mashed figs. These old "egg paintings" are so hard they can withstand all restoration methods.

Egg tempera holds especially well on thin grounds. It has a flexible soft stroke and a matte finish. When oil paints are mixed with egg, they lose their oiliness. 

I often use the whole egg for my emulsion (freshness is a deciding factor for the quality and holding ability of the emulsion). I press the whole egg through a fine sieve and add rectified linseed oil and some clove oil to it. I let this mixture sit for a few weeks in a dark bottle. Before painting with it, I put equal parts of the egg emulsion and water in another bottle and shake it well - the painting medium is finished. The egg emulsion dries to an elastic skin that is not water soluble and is generally very resistant, much hardier than oil paints alone.

Because I paint a lot on paper and on loose canvass, these particular characteristics of the egg emulsion are very important to me. In addition, I thin out the paint to an watercolour consistency and apply it lightly. When it's dry, I wipe it with a soft cloth and then the colours begin to shine from the inside out!

Walter Ehrismann
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