as individual as you are

Members: LOG IN

Deb Ward Art Blog


by debward , February 4, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: All Posts

I currently paint with casein, and although I am no expert by any means, I would like to share my experiences with you.

I had never heard of casein until one of our local watercolor society members gave a presentation on the medium. It looked interesting, so I bought a starter set. What a surprise! While some of its qualities were like watercolor, some were very different.

I was not able to find much about the medium, so, with the exception of that presentation, I feel like I__™m truly ___self taught___. I started out by simply playing with the paints. I quickly found out that they dry a lot quicker than watercolors, although not as fast as acrylics.

My biggest challenge was learning how to mix the colors to get the color I really wanted. For instance, to get a nice black in my watercolors I will mix burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. When I did that in casein I got a very pale bluish gray! __" not at all what I expected. I struggled with the limited colors I had, and experimented with the emulsion also, and managed to complete four 6×6 canvases. They immediately sold! As much as I was enjoying the medium, I was getting frustrated trying to blend colors, and at that point I decided it was time to purchase more colors.

I kept working small until I felt more comfortable, and then moved into larger paintings. After trying the paints on watercolor paper and not liking the results, I now like working on watercolor board, usually in 16×20 or 14×18 format. I glaze (layer) the casein the way I do my watercolors. Unlike watercolors, which can lift and muddy, depending on the pigments used, casein will not lift once it has dried. And, since it is opaque, mistakes can be painted over.

Another interesting feature of the casein that I have found is that the darks seem to dry lighter. At first I kept pushing the colors and becoming frustrated when they did not get as dark as I wanted. I have since learned that, once varnish is applied, the darks just ___pop___ " it™s really a neat thing to watch!

And since they can be varnished, there is no need to frame under glass, which saves framing cost. (However, when casein is applied to paper, it will need to be framed with glass). I allow my paintings to dry for a week or more before I coat them with 2 or 3 coats of varnish.

I use a Possum Palette for my watercolors, and have found that it also works well for the casein, since it allows me to keep the paints moist for longer periods of time. However, I cover the mixing area with a Richeson paper palette because the paint stains the plastic, and if the paint dries on the plastic I cannot remove it.

I have relegated my older watercolor brushes, including my old favorite Isabey sable, as my casein brushes and added a few inexpensive nylon brushes. Following every painting session, I clean them thoroughly with a brush cleaner, which also helps to condition them.

Getting to know casein is an interesting painting journey, one that I hope will continue for a long time.

(Image __" Casein on watercolor canvas, 8 × 10 __" one of my first pictures in casein, utilizing casein emulsion on the background - SOLD).





  Deb Ward ( homepage )

02/05/2008 * 12:35:28

Yes - and sold through ASW or Jerry's, usually in the oil paint section. They are relatively inexpensive and you might do better to buy a few tubes of colors you are used to using rather than the starter - I had a lot of trouble attempting to mix colors and like having practically the full range of pigments now. You might want to purchase the emulsion, also, just to try the paint all different ways. And it will be dull, until you apply varnish, then the colors pop. But, you may like the dullness (like gouache).


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

02/04/2008 * 22:36:12

It's interesting to hear how various pigments can behave so differently. I'm thinking I might have to keep my eye out for a casein starter kit like what you mentioned. However, I'm such a fanatic for really bright, vibrant colors. Do the sets sell more like oils and watercolors with hues like yellow ochre, burnt umber, etc?

What Do You Think? Leave a comment!

Code Check

Verification — Please type in the code you see in the image above. This helps us defeat automated programs that try to post "comment spam" (unwanted advertisements).