What is egg tempera?
Egg tempera is a fast-drying paint made from egg yolk, powdered pigment, and a little water. The paint is built up over many thin layers to create a saturated, matt finish that if used translucently gives a luminous glow, or opaquely can be more like gouache. 

It is an ancient paint medium that was used a lot until the 15th century when its popularity was superseded by oil paint. It is still used today but it is a relatively uncommon medium, possibly this is because of the lack of information, or the painstaking process.

Egg tempera dries very quickly, making it difficult to blend edges. Instead of blending the paint with a brush as you can with oils or acrylics, colour must be mixed and applied near or on top of another to create colour transitions in hue.

How do you make egg tempera paint?
Powdered pigments are ground (mulled) with water and stored as wet pastes until I’m ready to use them. Then I take a little of the coloured paste and mix it with an equal amount of egg yolk, and water to thin the paint to the right consistency. Only enough paint is mixed for the day as the the paint starts to dry up and smell after that.

Commercial egg tempera paint can be bought in tubes, but it is not a true egg tempera mix, and it will not handle like pure egg tempera. 

What do you paint onto?
Wooden panels coated with genuine gesso (made with rabbit skin glue and whiting). Egg tempera is not flexible enough to be used on canvas or paper, it needs a rigid support and adheres best to an absorbent ground. Wooden boards coated with a genuine gesso are perfect. 

I prepare all my gesso boards in a lengthy process involving cleaning, sizing, many layers of gesso, sanding and polishing until they are smooth.

What do you need to paint in egg tempera?
A genuine gesso panel (or Mdf, rabbit skin glue, whiting, and a varnishing bush if you are making your own), colour pigments, a glass muller and plate for grinding paint, palette knife, small jars for storing the colour pastes, egg yolks, deionised water, soft hair brushes, ceramic palette with a lid (or a ceramic plate), paper towels.

What is your creative process?
Once I have an idea for something I want to paint I'll make rough drawings and take a number of photos until I find the composition I want. Sometimes this involves making and baking my subject first. I paint from a combination of my photos and real life. Photos are great because they are static and shadows don't change but it’s good to have the actual subject for colour reference.

Once I have an image I like I transfer a faint outline onto a gesso panel and begin filling it in with many layers of paint. I start with the primary colours,  roughly laying them on top of one another to make the final colours. Then once I begin to add more detail I will mix more specific colours.

How do you choose a subject?
When I choose a subject I'm looking for interesting colours, shapes, textures and perceived associations. The best subjects are attractive and interesting. Subjects with a story behind them are always more interesting but it needs to look good.

Why do you paint food?
I love food, and I love to paint. It's easy to find a cooperative subject and I like its familiarity, it is something everyone can relate to. It can hold memories, tell stories, explore identity, and make us hungry. Often it will be something sweet as these foods are made to look appealing, filled with artificial colours and pressed into interesting shapes. It is a fun, playful subject.

Why the off white, neutral backgrounds?
A neutral background isolates the subject and presents it objectively, all the focus is where where I want it to be. Also, I don't usually want to paint anything else.

Who are you artistic influences?
I love the still-lifes of Wayne Thiebaud and Lisa Milroy, and the lonely urban and suburban paintings of Edward Hopper and George Shaw. 

It was paintings from Andrew Wyeth and Grahame Sydney that persuaded me to try egg tempera. At high school I loved the painting Christina's World, then, while at university, I became aware of the medium again in Sydney's iconic New Zealand landscapes.

When did you start painting?
Like most children I drew and painted from an early age, but unlike some I never stopped. I enjoyed art through school and studied graphic design at Canterbury Universities School of Fine Arts in New Zealand. Afterwards I moved to England and worked as a graphic designer for 6 years. While a freelance designer I taught myself how to use egg tempera and made the first painting in my current style, Biscuits in a Line. I entered this into a local art show where it was well received and from this I was offered an exhibition at a local gallery. In 2011 I took what I thought would be a short break from design to make some paintings for the exhibition. Afterwards I put the work online and thanks to the internet people from all over the world saw my work and began enquiring about originals and prints. So I began painting and now I’m a painter, not a graphic designer.

What advice can you give young artists?
Make work you want to make and not what you think others will want. You will make better work, enjoy it more and are more likely to continue if it's something you want to be doing. Look at other artists for inspiration but it's important to find and develop your own style so you stand out from the crowd.

Where can I see your work?
The best place to see my work is online. 
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