photo of artist Linda Paul

About Bas-Relief and Egg Tempera Fresco Painting by artist Linda Paul

Artist  Linda Paul uses natural crushed stone and earth mixed with a bit of water and egg yolk to make paint for her egg tempera frescoes. Blues come from crushed lapis lazuli, greens from malachite and natural green earth found around Verona Italy. She uses fascinating colors which have been lost for hundreds of years and new colors which she has discovered in the Rocky Mountains. This medium is luminous and lasts for centuries.

See all available egg tempera paintings for sale.

collecting pigments for fresco paintings

Pigment Collecting Left: This is the ancient ochre mine in Rousillon, France which historically provided natural ochre pigments for fresco paintings. Ochre is earth, and in Rousillon the earth has formed sedimentary layers in 17 beautiful colors that the artist uses in her work. Rousillon is no longer an operating quarry.

Les Ocres de France is the only remaining European company operating the ocher deposits in the French quarries of Gargas and Rustrel, nested in a 12 miles long enclave, in the heart of the Luberon Mountains, the ocher country.

Artist Linda Paul has discovered several new colors in her local area of the Rocky Mountains which have never been used before in the history of fresco painting. She received a grant from the Puffin Foundation for further research in this area.

Paul collects rock samples and grinds them into a fine dust from which the impurities are then filtered. A small quantity of the crushed mineral is then mixed with egg yolk for painting. Each mineral has it own set of properties and idiosyncrasies particular to it.


ocher mines in France
Egg tempera  painting precedes oil painting and was abandoned after the fifteenth century when oil paint was created. Oils allowed the artist to paint outdoors for the first time and this new found freedom all but made egg tempera extinct. Egg tempera painting is painstakingly slow because many layers of pure translucent pigment and egg yolk must be built up one by one. This  medium lasts for centuries.

Lost Pigments:
Some of the ancient pigments used to create the worlds great masterpieces have been lost. Ancient painters used stones and earths available in their particular geographical areas and knowledge of the locations of these pigments has vanished. Conservationists have a very difficult time repairing many old paintings because they can not match the pigments originally used. One of the recently rediscovered lost colors is a rare purple slate from Switzerland which Linda Paul uses is her paintings. Restorers working on the Swiss Benedictine monastery of Maria Einsiedeln were having problems with a particular shade of violet. The pigment dated back to the eighteenth century and was not available anywhere. The restorers turned to Dr. George Kremer who is an expert in historical pigments. After many years of searching, the violet pigment was found by chance when Kremer was driving in the Swiss Alps and saw some rocks glinting in the mountains. It turned out that it was precisely the stone pigment the conservationists has been looking for. Linda uses this rediscovered ground stone everyday. it gives new meaning to the words 'quantities are limited'!
artists pigments
Gargas ocher mines

natural ocher mine

 Historical Pigments:
Some historically fascinating pigments, which are still available today ( but not used by this artist) include Tyrean Imperial Purple which was so rare it was only used in the robes of emperors and kings. It is collected from a shellfish called Pupura Lapillus and 1 gram of this dye is made from the secretion of 10,000 large sea snails. Sepia, which was used in architectural drawings, is collected from Adriatic cuttlefish. Some of these Renaissance pigments are also very toxic and were responsible for the early death of many a painter and printmaker.

 Among the more bizarre historical pigments was Indian Yellow  which was made by feeding mangoes to cows, collecting their urine, and then evaporating the liquid to create an amazing color. This process is extinct (thank goodness)

Deep carmine red was made from the bodies of female wingless insects that fed on prickly pear cactus.

Caput Mortum (literally translated as death's head)  is a pigment originally made from the wrappings of mummies Adapted for today's world,  (and a lack of available mummies),  artist Linda Paul uses a caput mortem which is a natural iron oxide with complex layerings of sienna red and dark brown-black colors.

Linda Paul is an American painter born in Canada. She is a self taught artist who discovered her talent in her 30's when she was between countries and had a year off to freely experiment without rules or boundaries. In this time, she played with various mediums but fell in love with old school egg tempera. Linda mixes actual crushed stones and minerals with a bit of egg yolk to create amazing colors. Blues come from crushed lapis lazuli, greens from malachite, and her ocher colors come from the ancient ochre mines in France and Italy. Linda Paul is an egg tempera rule breaker, no cross-hatching or tight lines for this artist. Some of her artworks are sculptures as well as paintings. She will first sculpt the artwork in low bas-relief before painting. Linda Paul's work has appeared in many galleries and shows, publications and on numerous book covers as well as being licensed for a number of products. She runs a reproduction studio which reproduces her fine art prints onto tile. She does not paint in any one style or subject matter. Her work runs the gamut from chunky realism to abstract and impressionist painting.  Her inspirations come from nature combined with conceptual ideas. When asked what is her favorite painting, she responds "the next one I am going to paint!"

watch video of how to separate an egg for egg tempera paintings

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