Friday, March 31, 2017

Casein Coffee Sign

Although most of my spring work has been drawing and other pursuits, I've also spent continued time working in casein. The more I use the medium, the more I appreciate the versatility and speed that casein provides. Casein offers a wide range of compatibility with supports--illustration board, canvas, hardboard or whatever--which is also convenient and useful. Casein has considerably more opacity than watercolor, so you can paint over your mistakes and alter the image readily. The paint layer dries matte, giving good photo reproduction. Casein, like acrylic and unlike watercolor and gouache, is impervious to water once the layer dries.

Here is a small new painting of a neon coffee shop sign in Des Moines. The bright primaries, simple shapes, and a variety of transparent objects made it a challenge and great fun to complete.

I began with a fairly detailed drawing using a burnt umber watercolor pencil, then laid in a watercolor underpainting in the approximate colors. Once I had the colors in place and the painting was dry I began laying in richer and brighter colors taking advantage of casein's opacity. It seemed best to paint from back to front, so the printed letters and red and blue parts of the sign came first. I reserved certain spots for the rather yellow incandescent bulbs, which came next. The outline of the neon tubes was laid in using a blue watercolor pencil--the idea was to give the tubes a bluish cast. Finally I painted the tubes with titanium white. "Coffee" is 6x8 on watercolor paper.

This one may evolve into a larger work, perhaps even a studio oil painting. We'll see. 
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