My name is Tinuviel. I paint chickens. I don’t paint the chickens themselves. That wouldn’t be nice. It’s also not legal. I paint portraits of chickens. All sorts of chickens, pure breeds and farmyard mutts. I paint my own chickens and chickens I visit.
I use egg tempera on gessoed mdf panels
Egg tempera is a relatively obscure, nearly obsolete simple paint technique. It uses egg yolk, pure ground pigments, and water. It dries nearly as fast as it is applied and eventually cures into a very hard film. The yellow color of the yolk dissipates leaving behind the purity of the pigments.
The ground is a rabbit skin glue and marble dust gesso. This gesso is not the latex based pre-made gessos found in an art supply store. It is an absorbent, smooth surface for the paint to adhere. It adds luminosity to the paint above it.
The first written recipes for egg tempera were in Il Libro dell’Arte by Cennino Cennini ca 1400 even though the medium had been used for hundreds of years. It is theorized that the Ancient Greeks may have used an egg binder for their paintings; possibly also the Egyptians. By the end of the 16th century, egg tempera had fallen out of use, supplanted by newly developed oil paints and techniques.
In my first years of art school, I was drawn to egg tempera by the paintings from the attempted revival of the medium by the American painters of the early 20th century: O. Louis Gugliemi, Paul Cadmus, Jacob Lawrence. I love the simplicity of the process, the clear, true pigments, and the quiet, still mood it invokes no matter the subject.
The birds in my backyard flock of chickens are my models. I have a ready supply of eggs for my painting medium.