Changing Light

Although technically the calendar has turned and it is indeed fall, it still feels like summer — there are still zucchini and tomatoes growing in my garden, and still plenty of weeds to pull. So perhaps it’s the comfort of the early fall that makes this wintry painting by Jeff Gola especially appealing.

Blanketed with snow, this scene looks restful, warm despite the season suggested by the snow. It is a combination of the soft palette, the gentle lighting and the medium — egg tempera.

No wonder the Des Champs Gallery is titling its exhibit of egg tempera works by Jeff Gola  “Atmosphere and Light.” (It runs Oct. 11 to Nov. 9.)

Egg tempera painting, dating to the Middle Ages, has a tradition dating to the 16th century, is made by binding pigment in an egg medium.

Tempera was traditionally created by hand-grinding dry powdered pigments into egg yolk, sometimes along with other materials such as honey, water and casein and a variety of plant gums.

Around the year 1500, oil paint replaced tempera in Italy. Tempera continued and continues to be used in Greece and Russia.

Tempera is normally applied in thin, semi-opaque or transparent layers. When dry, it produces a smooth matte finish. Because it cannot be applied in thick layers as oil paints can, tempera paintings rarely have the deep color saturation that oil paintings can achieve. On the other hand, tempera colors do not change over time, whereas oil paints darken, yellow, and become transparent with age.

Says Jeff Gola: “I have found that the slow and careful process that tempera requires to achieve its depth and luminosity suits my temperament and vision.  The gradual building of form and the patient exploration of every surface nuance that is involved in tempera painting requires a meditative and reflective approach, one that I feel enables me to examine personal memories and feelings that these subjects evoke in me.  I have always been drawn to the rural landscape.”

Gola grew up in a rural setting on his family’s farm in Chesterfield.

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