Sandrine Aulagnon and the Egg Tempera technique: color, light, illumination
Egg tempera is the main technique of watercolor used since immemorial times, especially in Egypt, then by the icons painters of Byzantine and in Europe during the Middle Ages.
All Mediterranean societies of Antiquity knew and practiced egg tempera. Most preserved paintings are on wood, papyrus and parchment (eg : for illuminated manuscripts, from the second century) but this technique was also used on fabrics and furniture.
The original process is that of a painting using egg yolk, natural emulsion, or the whole egg as a medium to bind the pigments. This technique is so reliable that medieval works created with egg tempera are the best preserved of our heritage.
Paintings on removable wood panels gradually found greater success with art patrons. It also allowed a better circulation of artworks, and thus the possibility for artists to learn from the experiences of others.
Tempera remained the dominant practice for the paint on panels until the late sixteenth century and the discovery of oil painting.
Tempera was rediscovered in the early nineteenth century. This pictorial technique is the most powerful and reliable. It produces an optical effect of intensity and depth. Tempera can be worked following any style or personal approach.
Sandrine Aulagnon has always been fascinated by the Middle Ages.
As a child, she loved spending hours before those paintings filled with details and codes.
Both gifted in science and art, Sandrine studied both in Art History and Science and Techniques of Restoration and Conservation of paintings at La Sorbonne (Master). Then she majored in the world of icons to deepen a technique that fascinates her, the egg tempera.
“Thanks to the iconography, this technique has survived without interruption for centuries. Orthodox icons have kept the same technical forever while Western’s switched to oil painting. The cornerstone is to begin on a dark colored base and enlight it with increasingly clear shades. This technique was used mainly for religious paintings, like a spiritual approach of the icon where illumination is by faith ”
Sandrine created in 1996 her paintings restoration business. In 2006, she started to offer courses of egg tempera and also got trained in art therapy.
“I noticed people who bring me their paintings to restore loved to stay longer in the workshop and talk to me while I am working, sometimes disrupting my work. This relationship between painting and emotional relief made me want to get trained as art therapist and help others with it. Art therapy allows to find the unconscious messages to unlock blockages and every day emotions. ”