Egg Tempera 

Painting Techniques

session 3

July 1, 2024 – July 12, 2024


Art from 8th Century BC to today will greet you in Rome! Home to some of the most remarkable architectural wonders in the world, decorated with marvels of the history of sculpture and painting, and home to some of the most famous examples of frescos ever.

Michael Bergt

Michael Bergt


Therefore, in addition to a “techniques” class, just living and working in Rome with fellow art students encourages one to make leaps in their work. Working in egg tempera may be a continuing practice for some, or a totally new experience for others. Regardless, I enjoy helping fellow artists discover what they’re essentially trying to say and do with their work, in the context of a long history of art.  

We will visit and discuss amazing collections in Palazzo Barberini, Villa Borghese and the Capitoline Museums, not to mention the Vatican Collection. In that rich history, you will find many early Renaissance paintings with stamped gold leaf backgrounds. Ever wonder, “How did they do that?” The painting was done in egg tempera, (pre-dating oil painting) and the gold was applied with “water gilding.”

In this workshop, Michael will share traditional techniques of preparing and working on toned paper, how to work up preliminary tonal drawings and transferring those drawings to a true, rabbit skin/chalk panel, how to make egg tempera from scratch, and build up the jewel-like surface, and, for those interested, applying gold leaf using water gilding. 

Since 1980, Michael’s primary panel-painting medium has been egg tempera. He co-founded the Society of Tempera painters, and over the years I’ve developed my own approach to egg tempera—blending color directly on the panel instead of from pre-mixed tonalities. Egg tempera is a quick drying medium, with a high color key. It is the closest thing to “drawing with paint.” As such, I encourage exploiting this “rendering” quality in developing the painting.

Along with painting we will be taking trips to museums and churches to study paintings, drawings and sculptures of the masters.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this workshop. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the workshop description or these faqs, use the “Ask a Question”  button and we will be happy to get you the information!


Isn’t Egg Tempera really complicated, tedious, and limited?

Egg tempera is essentially, colored dirt, egg yolk and water, pretty simple stuff.  Very easy and inexpensive to make, and uses no solvents and cleans up easily with soap and water. While the tradition may seem very tedious and limited, egg tempera can also be applied very quickly and loosely, and used in a very expressive manner. 

I’ve heard that Egg Tempera is really difficult to use, and you can’t correct it.

Egg tempera is one of the most forgiving mediums. When fresh, the paint can be lifted off with a wet brush or cloth. The paint is applied in many thin, semi-transparent layers, allowing for constant adjustments while building on your previous layers.  The paint can be thinned to a flow out like watercolor, or applied directly like opaque gouache. It dries almost immediately to the touch, so another glaze, or direct application can be applied very quickly. It can be scraped back, sanded, or lifted with water. 

Isn’t Egg Tempera a Kid’s paint, and not really a serious medium?

Egg Tempera is the second oldest medium, it pre-dates oil paint, and it was used for some of the most famous paintings in art history, like Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.”  To this day, traditional Religious Icon Paintings are done in egg tempera, and Andrew Wyeth only used egg tempera his whole life.