Monday, May 9, 2011

Early Art Hero

One of my early art heroes was Robert Vickery. Next to Andrew Wyeth was one of the premiere practitioners of egg tempera. Sadly Mr. Vickery passed away at age 84 in April of 2011. He started out as an illustrator completeing 77 Time Magazine covers before setting off into the world of fine arts. I did get a chance to meet him at group exhibit that I had work in when I was much younger. He was the featured artist. To really appreciate his work you had to see it in person.

Below are a number of links, including a new book on his work that was recently published. His demonstrations in were pivotal in my understanding of the medium of egg tempera. JJP Links: Gallery Obituary: Here You Tube videos: Here and Here Amazon Book Links: Here and Here



  1. Sorry for the incorrect spelling and fragmented sentences .... I'm too lazy to change them!


  2. Back in the old days my teacher would show me examples of his work. I learned to work in a similar build up, hatching way with acrylics. Tried egg tempera a few times but never really committed. I kept asking myself why. Great post.

  3. man, this guy could REALLY work his medium. That's some excellent handling. NICE.

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  5. Thanks for the notification. From his choice of medium to his undeniable genius of composition I always felt he had such a poetic command of space, colour and imagery. I don't recall the painting's title yet, I remember viewing his work feeling an undeniable sensation of abstract emotion. Through subject placement and brush stroke, it seemed his canvas was trying to impart to me what remained the indecipherable code pertaining to our existence. His work seemed a beautiful effort to convey the inexplicable. Then again, maybe it was because I was on my own and early twenty.

  6. Bill - It's never too late to try again. Go for it!

    Moose - If you can find a copy of "New Techniques in Egg Tempera" jump on it. They're very scarce. I still have my copy that Robert Vickery kindly signed for me many years ago.

    Dagan - Preparing the pigment is fussy for some artists. Extracting the yolk from the membrane, premixing the pigment with distilled water etc... The egg emulsion surface is somewhat fragile in the painting's early stages. From personal experience... when I water polish my panels, the paint is extra fragile for the first couple of days. After that, the paint film gradually grows tougher and is less subject to damage. Some clients can be a bit rough in how they handle artwork so I imagine that some artists would be reluctant executing their illustrations using traditional tempera technique. Also the preparation of the panels using animal hide glue and true gesso is somewhat time consuming and tedious for the impatient artist. One factor that I find fascinating is that this is the only painting method/ medium that can not be successfully re-engineered with modern chemistry or other scientific methods. There simply is no satisfactory substitute for the real thing.

    James - Mr. Vickery was one of only a handful of artists that could create a tangible atmosphere in his work. You could almost sense the dust in the air between you and the subject in the painting. It was uncanny.. magical.

  7. the first picture is so interesting and the another I like so much they look so cute and lovely


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