Techniques & Mediums

Sinclair's love of watercolour began at an early age and he continues to be amazed at its translucent and luminous qualities. More recently the artist has experimented with egg tempera, producing delicate and sophisticated results.


The term "tempera" comes from temper or tempering, which means to bring something to a desired, or usable, consistency. In this case, the something is a pigment. Egg tempera is one of the oldest, most versatile, and most durable methods of painting. Said to date back to prehistoric times, it is generally unaffected by humidity and temperature changes. Tempera emulsions form their own protective surface film and do not darken with age as oil paint films do. They dry rapidly and become water-resistant, which means one application of paint can be rapidly followed with another without the two layers mixing.

This unique property is a distinct advantage over ordinary watercolour in that a wash of a different colour may be applied over the original color without the two colors mixing to form a third. This allows you to see one color through the other. When applied in thin layers the results are more transparent than transparent watercolour; when applied more thickly the results are opaque like gouache. After the tempera painting is completed, it can be burnished (polished) with an agate to add depth and brilliance and to increase transparency, or it can be varnished to look like an oil painting.

Sinclair's egg tempera and watercolour paintings are painted on 100% cotton, man made, archival paper from Fabriano, the oldest paper mill in Europe. This paper takes colour beautifully, and has been used since the 13th Century by artists such as Michelangelo. The unique surface with no impurities suits New Zealand's rugged conditions; the tooth attracts pigment well and holds colour vibrant. From time to time Sinclair also uses fine acrylic paint on heavy grade stretched canvas.