Egg tempera II – transferring the picture

So I’ve ended up with four nice shiny clean flat panels, ready to go. The thing about tempera is that you have to lay down exactly what you are doing first, then render in the shadows in ink, before under painting.

Here I am burnishing the gesso (rubbing it round with a very slightly dampened bit of cloth, in this case an off cut of the silk I’m about to make a frock with).


I’m…not…really one for pre preparing a painting. This is an understatment. I sketch things in and often ignore them.  I usually have happy accidents and moosh things up as I go.  So this is going to be an exercise in preparation and patience for me. I like to jump right in, not plan my steps out.  Not suitable for this work however!

I decided a while ago I would continue painting my series of incongruous things  together. And I do like doing portraits but I would expand into people other than kings and queens, and frankly if I have to paint another dinosaur at the moment I will go all stabby.

So I decided to paint Ada Lovelace. She wrote what is considered to be the first computer algorithm, she was an early mathematician (and happened to by Lord Byron’s daughter, not that she grew up with him). What a remarkable woman – I am not going to do justice to her here (also, Byron turns out to be both readable and funny. One of my favorite poets).

I wanted to paint her with an atari joystick but it not being the 1980s we don’t happen to have one on hand. We do have an X-box controller. So she’s holding one of them instead.

Here is my cartoon of her:


To get this onto the panel, I would normally use carbon paper or pencil, but you can’t damage the panel with pencil and blue lines of carbon paper would show up. So I followed the suggestion in my artist’s handbook, and rubbed the back of the paper with a little bit of the burnt umber pigment.


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From here, the picture was laid over the panel and I traced over the lines with a pencil.


And Ta-da! A very faint outline is on the panel, ready for the next step, inking! Oh I so hope this will not be a total mess up.


Wait with bated breath for your next installment!