The Palekh school works with tempera paint, gold leaf and lacquer. Tempera is a type of paint made from egg yolk mixed with pigments. The first recipe for tempera based on egg yolk was printed by Cennino Cennini in 1390. Tempera was mainly used to illuminate paintings and manuscripts. And to this day artists still use tempera in iconography. Paintings executed with tempera can last for centuries.
Tempera normally has a matte finish and only later takes on its brilliance thanks to the addition of a layer of wax or varnish. Tempera dries quickly, and the final rich colour palette is the result of light. The artist must decide in advance on the composition of the picture. Spontaneous painting with tempera paint offers fewer possibilities. Tempera does not allow the artist to make any corrections; once the paint is dry, nothing can be changed, although fine line shading of different colours can be interwoven to obtain colour transitions, for example to effect the transition from dark to light. Painting with tempera is very labour-intensive.