The classic egg tempera used during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance made it possible to keep the pieces of art intact. Between the 12th and the 15th century, it was used for religious paintings, whose colors have remained very subtle.
When, in 1895, Gustave Sennelier created the Tempera, he based himself upon the recipes of the 16th century masters. It was then very popular for its direct application on paper or on wood. At that time, each color had to be handmade, by combining a pigment and egg yolk. Today, you may use a 32-color range which remains the best technique for icons.
Its use is very simple. Egg tempera colors can be diluted with water and they dry quickly, giving a satin-matte finish. They may be applied in thin, overlapped, layers but may also be used to give more texture and may also be worked with a palette knife. The smooth texture of the egg tempera helps produce fluid brush strokes. When overlapped and nimbly applied, its capacity to cover is remarkable.
The egg tempera color may be applied on canvas, wood, cardboards. and on all surfaces that have been covered with a non-greasy mixture. It is even possible to resume a canvas that has been started with egg tempera, using oil paint. It takes a few months to dry, then it can be varnished, either using gouache varnish to keep its initial aspect, or with oil paint varnish if one wishes to give egg tempera the aspect of oil paint.
Color shown here is for reference only.