Sunday, June 28, 2009

Latest Miniature Eye Portrait

"Kimberly's Eye", 1/2" diameter (shown actual size), egg tempera on vellum with gold leaf matt in a pearled brooch

Here is my latest miniature eye portrait. To see more visit my eye portrait blog:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eve and Her Dog

"Eve and Her Dog," small work in progress, charcoal & pencil on mylar (approx. size 8" x 10")

I've been having a lot of fun doing this small charcoal for a family friend. Eve and her husband, Gus, originally met my father at NYU law school. Later on, Eve became my very first art patron in life, when she asked me to make an oil painting for her family. I was just 12 years old! I still remember how thrilled I was, and believe it or not, Eve still has that painting I did of Brutus, their large family dog.

I'm working here from a small polaroid of Eve as a lovely bathing beauty, catching some rays with another favorite dog of hers, up on a city rooftop. Still thinking about developing the background a bit more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two colleagues try egg tempera

"5 Giuseppe," 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", egg tempera on drawing paper, by Deb Kierce (c) Deb Kierce 2009

"Einstein #3," 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", egg tempera on Multimedia Artboard, by Akiko Watanabe (c) Akiko Watanabe 2009

Here is the first egg tempera painting done by each of two colleagues, Deb Kierce, and Akiko Watanabe during the past week. Deb has also done a second egg tempera, now posting on her blog, of Mother Teresa. Please click on their names to visit their blogs overall, and see some of the great work being done by both of these fellow artists.

I want to salute them for trying egg tempera painting. It's beautiful work!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And now it's time for the humorous video version of how to make egg tempera!

"St. Joseph and Jesus Devotional, Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur, Aix en Provence,"1 3/8" x 1 13/16", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

I'll be posting one more time on this miniature painting of a Joseph and Jesus devotional in France which I had started a while ago, after it's finishing touches are done, since I'm trying to get it ready in time for an approaching miniature show.

Two of my fellow artists have tried out egg tempera as a result of my video and tips, and with their permission, I'd like to do a special post on their work tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the humorous video version of how to make egg tempera has to be hands-down my friend and fellow artist Rob Milliken's own animation: "Making Egg Tempera Paint", so make sure to see it too, it's hilarious fun! Thanks so much, Rob, for allowing me to share it here. Rob serves on the board of the Society of Tempera Painters, and please take a moment to view his amazing egg tempera paintings here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Answers to FAQs and 3 more tips about painting with egg tempera

As a result of my brief demo on egg tempera medium (see June 14 post) one question that came to me is whether to buy liquid tempera in jars that is sometimes sold as a children's product. This is just poster paint. Look for dry powder pigment, sold in jars, available through most art stores, and also through Kremer Pigments, which is mixed by you with water into a paste and then mixed with egg medium. You can also buy a limited palette of egg tempera paint pre-mixed in tubes in some art stores, but since I haven't worked with it, I can't comment on using it.

If you want to varnish your egg tempera, or work over it in oil, you must isolate it with a layer of blonde shellac or liquin. I recommend either of these rather than spray fix to isolate it best. Varnish is not required, and you can also "buff" or "polish" an egg tempera, once it is more thoroughly dry, gently with a soft cloth to enhance it's beautiful natural sheen.

Three more important recommendations:

Choose a rigid support. Choose a thick four-ply board with a smooth absorbent surface such as Strathmore cold press illustration board or Crescent hot press illustration board to practice on at first. I don't recommend paper or bristol because it will warp with the addition of too much water and the paint may crack. Egg tempera is a rigid medium, so choose a rigid non-bendable support. The most ideal surface for egg tempera is a rabbit-skin glue gessoed panel (such as poplar wood or high quality birch plywood). Panel is a different experience too, than working on rag illustration board, but in both cases it is possible to build up many layers. Acrylic gesso will not absorb the egg tempera paint as well as rabbit-skin glue gesso, and the paint may not bind as well. I've tried clayboard also, but only with mixed results, so I don't recommend it.

Apply the paint very thinly, and in layers. A common mistake most beginning egg tempera painters make is to apply the paint too thickly in one individual layer. Build your paint gradually and remember that the principle is translucency. You are building layers to create an illusion of color and this also results in more luminous color. Remember that the principle is juxtaposing translucent layers. Layering creates an illusion of a color---for example a layer of green, with a layer of vermillion on top would make a warm shadow on a face.

How much egg medium is too much or too little? If the paint is chalky and dusting off your surface you have too little medium. If it becomes tacky and sticky, you have too much medium. As you gain experience your finished painting will eventually have an even 'sheen' or satiny patina. You can help even it out at the end by gently applying a thin layer of egg medium in the areas without sheen.

For any other questions which may arise I recommend the Society of Tempera Painters website at: and it's forum link.

Moving along next to my next miniature!......

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's in Progress

sketch/value study for the piano concert miniature painting

Recently I had the pleasure of attending my nephew, Eric's, Westchester spring piano recital at Wainright House in Rye, New York. Out of his piano school, Eric is currently the tallest and most experienced pianist, so his performance came last, but while I waited to hear him play, having a front seat made it a great joy for me to both listen and catch a few photos of each student performing their music. I'll be doing some artwork of Eric later on too, but today I enjoyed preparing this sketch and value study of another young pianist from the concert who caught my eye. Can't resist making her my next miniature subject in egg tempera on panel!

More information about surfaces to paint on, and answers to other questions about painting with egg tempera coming tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"How to Mix Egg Tempera Medium", my video demo

I wanted to get this finished last weekend, but I went briefly out of town, so here, as promised, is my demonstration on how to mix medium for egg tempera painting. I hope it might tempt you to try this wonderful medium, especially if you have never worked with it before! This is the medium I have used most often to paint with, whether on gessoed panel, on Kelmscott vellum or on Strathmore illustration board, and it is a medium perfectly suited to miniature painting because of it's capacity for fine detail and translucency.

For more about working with egg tempera, I also highly recommend a visit to the Society of Tempera Painters informative website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kathleen and Jason's Miniature Eye Portraits Completed

Kathleen and Jason Coy, husband & wife eye portraits shown actual size, 3/4" diameter each, egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

Kathleen's eye portrait, enlarged view

Jason's eye portrait, enlarged view

I ordered this pearled brooch from Nancy Still's MiniArt Supply, because I thought it would be a lovely way to for Kathleen to enjoy wearing either her own eye portrait or her husband's.

Here are the finished eye portraits of friend, artist, and fellow blogger, Kathleen Coy and her husband Jason Coy.   They were such great subjects to paint, and such willing participants!  These two portraits are my gift for them with my thanks, but if eye portraits are of interest, or if you'd like to commission your own eye portrait, I welcome you to visit my newest blog, Eye Portraits in Miniature, for more information.

Two Great Miniature Shows to Enter

I'll be posting the finished eye portraits of Kathleen and Jason shortly to follow this evening, but just want to give a heads-up to any interested fellow miniaturists out there that several prospectuses are now out for two important international miniature show competitions, and provide you the links to these entry forms if you are interested in submitting your work.

Entries for the Miniature Art Society of Florida (MASF) 2010 show are due on Oct. 9, 2009, and the link to their prospectus is here.  Entries for Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C. (MPSGS) are due Sept. 26, 2009, and the link to their prospectus is here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kathleen's Right Eye (in progress)

Kathleen's right eye, 3/4" (actual size), egg tempera on vellum

 (enlarged view)

This is a little paler in it's original form (scanner exaggerated the pinks), but it's done except for some softening and final touches.  Next it's Jason's left eye.......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Husband and Wife Eye Portraits

fellow artist Kathleen Coy and her husband Jason 
(thanks Kathleen for loaning this photo for the portraiture!)

sketch for Kathleen's right eye portrait  (enlarged - actual diameter 3/4")

sketch for Jason's left eye portrait  (3/4" diameter)

Friend, artist and fellow blogger, Kathleen Coy was kind enough to loan me the lovely photo above of herself and her husband Jason, and from this reference I will be painting their eye portraits!  Also above are two sketches I have prepared.  One thing I've been observing as I paint eye portraits is that it is not only the eye itself, but the area around the eye that must be given attention for context so that the eye does not 'float'.  Facial expression, lighting, and angle of the eye also factor into what makes an interesting eye portrait.

To see some additional eye portraits I'm preparing to paint, please also visit Grander Joy of Spirit, and check back later this week to see these paintings unfold.