Friday, September 01, 2017

More on Casein

The more I paint with casein, the more I love this form of paint. To summarize its virtues: it is a water-based medium, thinned with water; it is opaque and dries rapidly to a beautiful matte finish; it photographs well; it is made from a natural product--milk. Moreover, casein is an old kind of paint, perhaps tens of millennia old, and it survives very well. Finally, it adheres to almost any surface and therefore is useable on many kinds of supports.

More and more the medium appeals to me because of its immediacy and simplicity as well as the easy cleanup. Even better, the paint can be squeezed onto a wet paper towel and covered to keep it moist. Casein will last several days under a tight cover that prevents the water from evaporating.

Here are a few casein sketches from the past few weeks. None of these was done in less than thirty minutes, but not much more than an hour.

"Studio Windows 01," casein on panel, 6x8
A sketch of windows in the studio and the work table below them. Out the windows, a few dozen yards away, are trees and dense foliage that I kept unfocused to show depth of field. The clutter of bottles and jars in front of the windows have more definition and therefore look closer.






"Studio Windows 02," casein on panel, 8x6

In this painting the foliage outside the windows is a bit brighter because it was later in the day with more sun. The windows are exaggerated in height and more table top is visible, but the same clutter is still there, lighted by reflections from the trees and table top. The fun of this little sketch was catching how the light was reflected and transmitted by the various items on the table. Of particular interest were the golden liquids in some of the bottles of medium or oils.











"Silver Creamer,"casein on panel, 4x6
The image to the left even smaller than those above, only 4x6. It's also on a hardboard panel and was done on the windowsill above. I tried to capture the reflections dancing along it's handle and top in the short time I alloted to paint this little image.







"Philodendron in a Bottle," casein on panel, 8x6

In the final sketch, also 6x8, the subject is a wine bottle with a philodendron vine growing out of it. This was painted over an old, failed oil sketch without any priming or sanding, simply to see how well the casein paint would adhere. It does a remarkable job of adhering and covering, as can be noted. The opacity let me paint a lighter layer over much darker oil paint. It did take a couple of coats to adhere well to the more oil-rich but dried painting below.

(Note: This is not generally a good painting practice, but I did it this way only to check adherence of the paint.)
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Recent posts on casein:
Windowsill Works Once More
Quick Sketching in Casein
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