Make Your Own Egg Tempera Paint

It’s Day #2 of Egg Week.  In case you’re just popping in, my talented friend Melissa over at The Chocolate Muffin Tree and I are posting unique egg-related activities or experiments each day this week.

painting with egg temperaI’ve been interested in whipping up a batch of homemade egg tempera paint for a while, and being that it’s egg week and all, this seemed to be the right time to finally crack open some eggs and give it a try.

Do you know the history of egg tempera paint? It’s quite interesting, actually.

Egg tempera was wildly popular amongst Early Renaissance artists (Botticelli, Giotto, Fra Angelico) and then fell out of use with the Late Renaissance artists (Leonard da Vinci, Michelangelo) when oil paint was introduced. To make egg tempera, powdered pigments culled from things such as stones, sticks, bones, and the earth were mixed with water and then tempered with a binding agent such as an egg. And when they were tempered with eggs, they were called egg tempered paints and eventually earned the nickname Egg Tempera. Interesting, right? So this is where those big, bright bottles of kid-friendly tempera paint get their name from.

I used this recipe from Kid’n’Kaboodle, and if you click over there you’ll find an enormous list of recipes that will keep your little artists busy for a long time. Go ahead, click over and bookmark it. I’ll wait.

This project doesn’t take very long to set up, kids will enjoy making their own paint from eggs (unless they’re allergic or hate eggs, of course), and once the paint dries it has a gorgeous, shimmery patina that makes it painting-worthy.

make egg tempera paint with kids

Materials

  • Eggs
  • Small mixing bowls
  • Bowl to crack egg whites into
  • Paint Brushes
  • Liquid Watercolors or Food Coloring
  • Card stock or other heavy-weight paper

make egg tempera paint with kids

I separated the yolks from the whites, and dropped one yolk into each of these small bowls.

make egg tempera paint with kids

3.5 year old Nutmeg chose three colors to add: Purple, Sparkly Red, and Sparkly Blue. We used Glittery Blick Liquid Watercolors from Dick Blick Art Supplies, which I highly recommend if you’re planning an online art supply order anytime soon. The bottles are inexpensive, last forever, and there’s a huge range of colors.

As soon little Rainbow began mixing the purple into the egg yolk, Nutmeg commented on how purple and orange mix together to make brown. Not her desire, exactly, but she didn’t seem to mind and it was a great little unintended lesson in color mixing.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paintAnd then we got painting. Quite a lot of painting, actually. For this step, I used paper from a big ream of white card stock purchased from the office supply store.

drawing with sharpieI joined in too and it occurred to me that this transparent paint would make a beautiful luminous sheen over some bold Sharpie marks. I offered my kids Sharpies, and they thought it was a great idea too.

Do your kids love Sharpies as much as mine do? My kids go bananas over Sharpies and I sometimes wonder if it’s because they really are all that wonderful or if it’s because I keep them on a super-high shelf, buried behind old taxes and holiday Silverware.

child paints with homemade egg tempera paintThis was a great move, and the effect was as pretty as I had imagined.

toddler paints with homemade egg tempera paintMy toddler isn’t so deft with the Sharpie and I had to keep a sharp eye on her. She also insisted on the famous paint-draw technique, which kept me busy. How I even snapped this photo I’m not sure.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paintBefore we wrapped it up, they wanted to collaborate with my on my drawing. Rainbow asked me to draw her a sheep, and then the two of them went to town painting in and around the scene.

Be sure to hop over to The Chocolate Muffin Tree to see what they’re doing with eggs today (and all week, for that matter).

Have you made egg tempera paint? Do you make collaborative art with your kids? Have you made your own art supplies? Any favorite recipes to share?

Comments

  1. says

    We made egg tempera paint last year using natural pigments like the old masters. Spices like turmeric and paprika work well, as does ground up chalk or charcoal, and also berry juices. Apparently it’s a very stable and long lasting paint, which is why so many of the early Renaissance masters artwork has survived so well.

    • Rachelle says

      I’m so glad you mention using natural pigments. This occurred to me too, but as I’ve been recovering from a big cold I barely had the attention span to pull off the watercolors! We’ll have to try this again with your recommendations. Thank you, Jude!

  2. says

    Great post. Love the idea of making your own paint with eggs. You always surprise me with what you come up with! I remember in college having a class which involved making traditional egg tempera and other old master techniques. 

    • Rachelle says

      That is crazy, Amy! The surface is gorgeous and because of it I know I’ll be making my own egg tempera again soon. Okay, off to check out your take on this…

    • Rachelle says

      It’s so rewarding to make your own paints, and to teach kids about the history of paint along the way. I hope you guys enjoy it.

  3. squid mom says

    This is so cool- and I learned why they are called tempera paints, which is, of course a plus. I can’t wait to try this soon!

    • Anonymous says

      and i totally concur on the sharpie fascination! (i think it’s the fact that they’re “mom’s special markers” which i only share on occasion that gives them mystique!)

    • Rachelle says

      Good questions, Kiruthika! The paint dries unbelievably fast, and was favored by the Renaissance painters for its stability. So there’s no fear of it going bad. There are two differences between this project and the more traditional approach: I used liquid watercolors instead of dry pigments (shouldn’t be a problem) and there’s an extra step of rolling and drying the yolk sack before pouring it out that I skipped to make this simpler. I doubt that would make too much of a difference but if you want to create something archival, you may want to read up on the traditional approach. The only other thing I’ve read about the paint that may pose a problem is that it can flake off, but I haven’t seen that as a problem. If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

  4. Trisha Stanley says

    I love collaborative art!  My son likes it when I paint with him.  He usually paints on my paper and then has me paint on his.

    • Rachelle says

      Isn’t it sweet, Trisha? I’m going to try to soak it up while they still love to do this. And maybe we’ll still collaborate when they’re grown-ups too. 

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Make Your Own Egg Tempera Paint Today we’re both talking about a project that Melissa and I collaborated on last year: Dying Eggs with Natural Dyes. There are so many fun commercial egg-dying products to choose from, and you may be perfectly content with a box that promises  tie-dye with coated glitter. My 3-year-old and I just tore through one of these and she had a great time with it. But if you have a little bit of time and an interest in teaching your child about the magic of nature, this project is worth your while. I did this with my daughter when she was not quite three, and it held her attention and captivated her imagination. Click over here to find out what vegetable gave us this brilliant blue color! And then check out The Chocolate Muffin Tree to see how she and her daughter made naturally dyed marbled eggs. They’re  beautiful, and the process will become one of your favorites, I’m sure. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for more egg ideas. And happy Spring! /* promote creative and critical thinking…mindsets that support children as they grow into a world that values independent thinking. [...]

  2. [...] * домики с бубенцами, сделанные из яичных картонок * как сделать яичную темперу [...]

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