Comic Book Paintings Glen Holland
First Line (painting process)


Paint is made every day. A fresh egg, allowed to warm up to room temperature, is separated to preserve the yolk. I use a separator of some sort.  The cook's method of passing the yolk back and forth between egg shell halves was used for quite a while but, in my hands, wasted too many eggs. If the yolk breaks during this process and the white seeps in, it is no longer useful for making this paint.

The separated yolk is rolled gently down a paper towel to remove all the white from the membrane. Then the membrane is held, punctured, and the pure yolk is poured into a glass container. Local, organic eggs, procured as fresh as possible,  are the most desirable.

The egg yolk is to be the binder in the paint. It is further processed by adding distilled water in a 1 to 1 ratio. A drop of vinegar, or clove oil, is added as a preservative. The yolk is an emulsion, in which water and oil are mixed. A small amount of linseed oil can be added, to improve workability somewhat, and will be emulsified, and this amazing concoction will still retain its water solubility.

   Blend ingredients and the binder is ready. It will last approximately a day, depending on air temperature, freshness of egg, ratios and quality of ingredients, and luck. When it smells bad or becomes unworkable dump it and make a fresh batch. I used to refrigerate it overnight, but the workability wasn't good the next day.

Place a dollop of the colors to be used, (the previously prepared pigment pastes),  into small separated containers, or wells.

Ready made trays with built in wells can be obtained, or small containers like medication dosage cups can be used. Add the prepared egg yolk binder to pigment pastes, 50/50 more or less depending on pigment: experiment.

 Add a little water, and mix. I use an old bristle brush. Now it is paint.

Mix the paints to get the necessary colors for painting and add water to further thin (almost ink like in consistency), for usage. Trial and error will be required, the paint should flow on smoothly, not too thin, not too thick

Visual references are used to remind me of what certain things look like. Sketches, photographs (analog and digital), actual objects, live models, whatever is required to aid memory, which feeds the drawing and painting actions that spring mainly from imagination and visual and muscle memory. Automatic or unconscious drawing produces for me a sort of cartoony imagery, that combined with these augmentations add up to the look and feel of these paintings.

Load a high quality pure sable pointed round brush, I use sizes #00 through #2, mainly #1, with the paint mixture and wipe on a paper towel. Apply in short quick strokes in a crosshatching technique. The right combination of thin and dry paint will produce many clean, smooth, quick drying strokes.

The first layer of strokes are semi-transparent and monotone, and body and blending is achieved by layering and overlapping strokes in many layers. Generally painting is done with dark over light. 

Thinly painted areas will allow the white ground to show through. Colors above will blend with colours below.

The aurochs will eventually be a blackish color but I'm thinking about beginning to establish values and undercolours  with these first strokes...The colors will look different on the panel than they did in the mixing tray as they will be influenced be what is below, at first this includes the property of absorbancy.

Paint mix 3:
With oil paints I used to lay out a blob of all the colors in my "palette" and mix extravagantly. I did this for years with the egg tempera, but now I am trying to predict what colors I will need just for the next hour or three. The tempera mixtures don't last too long (dry up, go bad) and a lot of time and paint can be saved by planning, not really my thing, but...
Thin the newly mixed color, each pigment has different paintability properties, and the mixtures will require another calculation.

Wash everything, every day, eggs, you know...
Sometimes a color is mixed for one thing but shows itself to be useful for something else. This can be used not only for a compositional effect, but, as in the case of this brown-tan episode, can reflect something from life...
like the similarities, and similar roots, of skin color in humans, both homo sapiens (all, everyone, everywhere) and homo neanderthals (probably), and all mammals, maybe, I don't know.

For technical details and instructions read these books (and keep them handy):
The Craftsman's Handbook: "Il Libro dell' Arte" -Cennino d'Andrea Cennini
The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting-Max Doerner
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques
-Ralph Mayer
A Manual of Painting Materials and Techniques -Mark David Gottsegen
Formulas for Painters -Robert Massey

The Practice of Tempera Painting
-Daniel V. Thompson, Jr.
The Luminous Brush-Altoon Sultan
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