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How to Make Tempera Paint at Home

How to make tempera paints

Cimabue, our artist study for the term, used tempera paint to paint both on wood and on plaster to create frescoes. I will be writing a separate post which will outline the work we completed whilst studying his art. For now, I will be showing you how to make tempera at home using chalk dust and egg yolk. Tempera paint is a long lasting, quick drying paint which does not change colour over time like oil paints do. This is a great activity for both children and adults alike, and it is perfect for a homeschool study.

What You Will Need

Collect the following:

  • Chalk – these can be children’s chalks like we used (these will create bright colours and you will need to mix and match to achieve the more muted colours of Cimabue’s time) or you can use artist’s chalk (these are a bit more expensive, but all things considered, this is what I would choose. They are much softer and easier to crush, make a smoother paint, and naturally contain more muted colours so less mixing is required)
  • Enough bowls for the number of colours you want to make
  • Some eggs
  • A pestle and mortar
  • Pipette

How to Make Tempera Paint

  • Firstly, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Keep the yolks to use for the paints. Pop the white covered into the fridge (and perhaps make a meringue or chocolate mouse later on đŸ˜‰ or, even better, use it as a varnish to use on the children’s art work).
  • Next, using one coloured chalk at a time, place it in the mortar and grind it down with the pestle. The finer you can get it, the better the resulting paint. Wash the mortar between powders.
  • Whisk each egg yolk used with one tablespoon of water.
  • Using the pipette, add a small amount of the diluted egg yolk to the ground powder until you reach the paint consistency you would like.

Using the Home-made Tempera Paint

We would be using this paint to make wood paintings (although we used cardboard so I could stick them in their notepads). The ‘paint’ although thick and slightly lumpy went on the plaster rather well.  I enjoyed, particularly, the challenge of mixing all these bright colours to achieve some more muted colours.

painting with homemade paints

Next week, I’ll post about our homeschool Cimabue study.

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