Egg tempera test panel

I know that I like to watch work-in-progress posts so I will try to  blog more often about my works-in-progress. Here is my latest experiment.

I have wanted to try stretching and mounting vellum for a while. I am not sure that I would use them for my normal watercolor on vellum work all the time–I do like the look of loose vellum waving and moving like the living breathing creature it is!

I have been pondering a combination of medium and support that would be more accepted in the wildlife art world – in my mind looking more similar to oil and acrylic paintings on canvas or panel. I have been playing with oil painting again and while I like it and have been successful selling some pieces, I am struggling with the drying times, the lint in the drying oils and getting used to a medium I have not used in many, many years. In the meantime, my watercolor work on vellum has continued to get juried in to national shows establishing my ‘brand’ so to speak. So I had two other criteria in my quest

1. the work has to support my brand
2. the work has to satisfy my preferred way of working

This piece is feeling like I hit the right combination. It is on calfskin vellum but on stretched and mounted vellum. That keeps it within the scope of my brand, ie. the artist who works on vellum, you know that stuff that is ‘actual skin’! The mounted vellum looks more like a stretched canvas or panel. Working in egg tempera is essentially the same as how I paint with watercolor. It is a very linear technique as the paint dries very quickly so it is layered using quick lines and dots of paint. Egg tempera is also known for its luminous quality of layering colors with all the underlayers shining through, just like watercolor on vellum. In this piece, I wanted to paint in a background for two reasons. First it would make it look a little more like a traditional oil or acrylic painting and second it would make it a little different from my watercolor work on vellum which for the most part does not have any backgrounds. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Layer #1 – a gold/orange layer behind the blue sky

Baltimore Oriole first layer


Layer #2 – the first sky color

First layer of sky


Detail of sky layer

Close-up of first sky layer


First shadow layer

First shadow layer

First layers of detail/local color

First detail layers



Baltimore Oriole