Digital Art School: Nina Royle

Our series of artist-led tutorials continues with painter, performer and creative writer Nina Royle.


Make your own paint using egg tempera

Nina’s workshop will teach you how to make egg tempera paint from the yolk of an egg and a selection of dry, earth pigments. Egg tempera paint has an incredibly long history of use. It is typically associated with panel paintings made during the Middle Ages.

You will need:

  • A5 or A4 cartridge paper
  • 1-2 eggs (as fresh as possible)
  • Dry earth pigments such as Yellow Ochre (these can be purchased at a fine art supplier such as A.P. Fitzpatrick)
  • A toothpick (alternatively you can use your nail)
  • A large pebble or smooth rock to grind your paint
  • A palette knife or butter knife
  • A jar of water
  • A jar with a lid for your egg tempera paint
  • A cup for separating your egg
  • A flat surface on which to mix your paint. Nina uses a glass palette but you could use a ceramic plate or glass chopping board.

Fancy joining in with others for this workshop? You can #createalong with Nina on the 22nd of Octobersign up.


As we continue our exciting programme of virtual workshops in collaboration with Hospital Rooms we talk to born and bred Cornish artist Nina Royle. Having grown up in the county, subsequently spending a period of 10 years away studying, Nina returned to her roots and now lives full-time in Cornwall. She holds an MA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Painting and has exhibited extensively since graduating including at The Newlyn Art Gallery, and Exeter Pheonix, Devon.

Typically small in scale, Nina’s hand sculpted painted panels are each an individual expression of the landscape, weather, corporality and time, articulating the fluidity and fleetingness of our encounters with the ever changing physical world alongside the always evolving process of painting. Increasingly, Royle’s practice also incorporates creative writing, installation and performance.

Nina is currently a tutor at the Newyln School of Art.

Can you tell us a bit about your artistic practice?

My practice includes painting, creative writing and performance. I use these mediums to give expression to nature’s nature – processes of living, growing, birthing, dying, transmitting and transforming. The paintings I make are generally small in scale, on shaped gesso panels. The colours, pigments and materials used in them, are often significant and have symbolic value.

How does Cornwall impact, influence or find its way into your work?

I grew up in Cornwall, but moved away for ten years to study. In that time away my work became fixated with trying to embody something of the Cornish landscape. I missed it – an idea of wildness. Since moving back here, I find Cornwall, or more specifically West Penwith, rears its head in my work in a closer, more tangled and enmeshed way. Living away, then returning to live, has irrevocably changed my relationship to the place I call ‘home’. I understand in more depth why as an 18 year old I was obsessed by the idea of escaping, and why I made the decision to return. I feel however that Cornwall is changing rapidly and I find the changes in many ways heart breaking, so sometimes I wonder if there will be a point where I leave again. I hope not!

This season our designers were inspired by The Cornish Modernists – has the work of these pioneers of the twentieth century laid any foundations for you, or does your work take any lead from these artists?

Yes, it certainly does, but in an unconscious way which I find hard to think critically about. My dad, Guy Royle, is a jeweller who worked as an assistant to the artist Breon O’Casey (who was very much part of that St Ives, Modernist tradition). Looking back when I was younger, the sensibilities of that tradition floated in and out of the household in a very matter of fact way. More than anything else, the influence it has had on my work, related to an approach towards making. A stance that privileges craft as much as art, or said differently, the hand as much as the eye.

Can you tell us a little about your connection to Seasalt?

In 2019 I worked with Hospital Rooms on a commission at the Junipers MBU Ward in Exeter. Seasalt sponsored the project and we’re at present, part of discussions related to the evolution of the work that I created for the commission.

Why did you decide to get involved with Hospital Rooms and Digital Art School?

Firstly, I think it is a brilliant project, which I believe in. I’d also had an extremely positive experience working with Hospital Rooms’ team in Exeter, so I feel supported and relaxed about being on camera for the Digital Art School (generally I get hugely awkward and embarrassed about things like this!).

Which part of the project are you most excited about?

I’m fascinated by pigments and different types of paint – how they’re used and where they come from. So it felt immensely exciting to be able to share a small part of this interest through my contribution towards Digital Art School. Particularly in regards to the live workshop, I’m looking forward to people’s responses to making egg tempera. If the eggs aren’t fresh, it can be messy!

What positive connections do you see between art and mental health?

I think the sensual, haptic insistence in my work, coupled with my fascination for materials (where they’re from and the human and geographic stories connected to them) is about grounding and trying to connect the self to time and place. I think it’s also about trying to root the cerebral within the bodily and sensual. In relation to my own experiences of mental health, focusing on strategies to bring the mind back into the rhythm of the body, has always been a helpful practice to feeling steady.

Tell us about your online workshop and what people can expect…

My online workshop teaches you how to make egg tempera paint from the yolk of an egg and a selection of dry, earth pigments. Egg tempera paint has an incredibly long history of use. It is typically associated with panel paintings made during the Middle Ages.

How do you feel about hosting a workshop online?

Good. I am still to get used to it though! At the moment talking to a screen feels like a substitute to human contact. I hope this feeling remains, as the idea of online, materials-based workshops supplanting physical ones as the norm, fills me with fear. Humans need physical contact!

How have you found these Covid times?

Like many people, up and down. Emotions have run high at times and financial uncertainty and inability to plan ahead, has felt deeply unsettling. But a slowness, quietness and pause for reflection forced by the moment, has also felt deeply needed.

Who should get involved with Digital Art School?

Everybody with an interest in eggs…or pigments.