Today I’m sharing how to make homemade tempera paint. This paint is beyond simple, made from eggs and food coloring, and it will last indefinitely once dry.
I’ve been interested in whipping up a batch of homemade egg tempera paint for a while, and was eager to try this with my kids.
History of Egg Tempera Paint
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 paint, 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 borrowed 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.
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.
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- Small bowls
- Paint Brushes
- Liquid Watercolors or Food Coloring
How to Make Tempera Paint
- Step one: Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.
- Step two: Mix food coloring or liquid watercolors into the egg
- Step three: Mix well
- Step four: Paint
Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.
My 3.5 year old chose three colors to add: Purple, Sparkly Red, and Sparkly Blue. We like the Sax Liquid Watercolors. The bottles are inexpensive, last forever, and come in a huge range of colors.
As soon as my one year old began mixing the purple into the egg yolk, my older daughter 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.
Painting with Tempera Paint:
With our homemade tempera paint ready, we got busy painting. Quite a lot of painting, actually.
I 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.
This was a great move, and the effect was as pretty as I had imagined.
My 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.
Before 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.
More Homemade Paints
We have this awesome collection of homemade paint recipes that includes: