Heather Carol

Artist and Poet

In 2013 I had a bout of paralysis that left me with permanent impairments to my hands. I gradually found ways of working  around these impairments to be able to create paintings again.

After a lot of experimenting I found that I could work by having a panel flat on a table, and by supporting my hand on the panel as I work.

My most recent work has been created in egg tempera paints on traditional gesso panels. Here are the techniques that I use to create my egg tempera paintings. I am using the painting PRIDE FOR THE FALLEN, created in egg tempera and shell gold,  to illustrate my techniques.

First, I draw the composition onto the gesso panel, and then use thin washes of colour to create an under--painting. Egg tempera can't be used for impasto (thick layers of paint like those applied with a palette knife) as the paint layers will crack. One of the traditional techniques of working with egg tempera is to build the layers of colour in cross-hatched brushstrokes,but I find that very thin layers of washes work for me.

I often change elements of the composition as I work, and the composition of this painting was changed a number of times as the piece developed.

Gradually the layers of paint create a depth of colour. Egg tempera is a methodical and time-consuming medium - but the effects are worth it.

When I have the basic colours and shapes of the composition I start to cut textures into the painting using an engraving tool.

I then place colour washes over engraved areas  to give depth and texture. I then continue to create the painting with alternate layers of engraving and washes.

Almost done. The incised textures can be seen in this detail. The level of detail that I use in my paintings means that my paintings take a minimum of 100 hours to create - often a lot longer.

At this stage I start adding the shell gold. This is placed on areas incised back to the gesso layer. The shell gold is used like a watercolour. It dries to a matt finish. The shine is created by burnishing the gold gently with an agate burnisher. This is very time consuming , but the different light effects that shell gold can create throughout a painting are worth the effort.

                The finished painting.

                 PRIDE FOR THE FALLEN


                 Image size 18" x 24"

                  Egg tempera and shell gold on a traditional gesso panel.

Photos by Heather Carol, Debbie Humphry and Yannick Yannof

                                                                                          Artwork (c) Heather Carol.