View Full Version : Casein Practice

09-05-2006, 07:43 AM
I hesitated in posting this unfinished casein practice piece I did yesterday, but decided I couldn't learn if I wasn't willing to put what I do "out" there. It is painted on a 7" x 5" Ampersand hardboard using Shiva caseins which have an obnoxious odor, but enjoyed the paint itself. This was my second time to try the caseins and I can tell there is a lot to learn. One thing I learned (and should have known by now) is to let the layers dry completely before going back into them. Nothing like mud for a good teacher :D.


If anyone has any tips or advice for working with this medium, it sure would be appreciated. In case you are interested, here is John Molnar's (http://www.johnmolnarpaintings.com/) website link where he shares his way of painting with caseins, which I found very informative.

Cheers and thanks,

P.S. This was painted from a photograph I took of a place about 15 miles from where I live :)

09-05-2006, 01:53 PM
Hi! I have just found caseins after a long absence too! I love them. Having an asthmatic husband makes me love them a whole lot more. He hates the fumes from oils. And the casein smell is only mildly obnoxious.

I wanted to than you for your link, I have it now and will return.....

Looks like you paint in an immpressionist manner. Lovely feeling here. I'd like to see more of your things.

See you again,:wave:

09-05-2006, 03:54 PM
Thanks for looking and you are most welcome on the link, Weezy. I do paint fairly impressionistic but in this case it was just trying to lay down paint so that it looked like something before a stroke dried. :D. It is so exciting to learn different mediums.


Richard Saylor
09-07-2006, 07:34 AM
Ann, that's a very pleasant use of color in your painting. I don't see any 'mud' at all.

I'm basically just a gouache beginner myself, although I did play with it some a few years ago. From my limited experience I think the best ways to keep layers from lifting or mixing are:

1. Let each layer dry before painting on top of it.
2. In subsequent layers, use as few brush strokes as possible. I.e., lay down a brush stroke but do not brush back and forth across the same path, as this may stir up the paint underneath.
3. You can also avoid mixing layers by overpainting with thicker paint each time.

You probably know all this already, but I thought it might be useful to others just starting out with casein.


09-07-2006, 08:00 AM
Richard, thank you so much for the very helpful tips. It helps to actually see them written down. Your #2 tip would be good for just about any medium and definitely one that caseins will help me learn. I have a tendency to overwork the paint. I haven't worked in gouache yet and only one attempt with egg tempera but those are mediums to be explored in the future. I love what I see here in the Forum and at other on-line artists' sites.


09-07-2006, 06:59 PM
never painted in casein before Ann but it looks excellent to me, and seeing this makes me want to try it now, I have to read up more on it and find a place that sell the supplies and get er done :)

09-07-2006, 07:29 PM
Hi Sam & thanks :). I think when I learn to work with, instead of against, I will really like them. I know I like the look of them very much.

Check out this link (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=366677) posted by dbclemons, if you haven't already. It gives more info on caseins which I found quite interesting and useful. I bought the Shiva from Dick Blick but I know there are other places or maybe you would like to make your own :D.


09-07-2006, 08:26 PM
This is nice, Ann. Don't fear the mud :p. It forces you to keep your palette under control and plan ahead. Apply color values that are equal in tone, and they'll mix a little easier, even when wet. Richard's tips are right on. Starting off with thin washes and building up opacity is a good process. (Thanks for the plug on that link. ;))

09-07-2006, 08:44 PM
Thanks for looking and your comments David. You are so right, it does make one plan better. You are so welcome about mentioning the link but it is really me thanking you for sharing the info:). It is a really good one. Perhaps it could be made into a stickie as a start for info on caseins?


Stanley Arts
09-08-2006, 04:40 PM
Hi -
I haven't posted before but I do teach casein painting as well as run the School of Art & Gallery for the Jack Richeson Co. in Kimberly, WI - the company that makes Shiva Casein paints. I had the pleasure of studying with John Molnar from Ontario, whom you mention in your posting.

Just wanted to address a couple of issues you brought up. First, the odor of the paint: this is one of those weird things that varies widely from artist to artist! Some of us don't even notice the odor of casein, and others (such as yourself apparently) find it abhorrent. Just a touch (i.e. a drop) of oil of cloves added to the paint will take care of the odor. The casein emulsion is more odiferous than the paint itself - same fix though.

As to making mud: A benefit of working with casein is that you can go back in for days with water and move the paint around...it is also casein's curse if you're glazing! Something you can do short of waiting for a week between layers is wait for a half-hour or so til the paint is thoroughly dry to the touch. Then apply a barrier layer: Easiest way is to use spray matte fixative or Krylon Crystal Clear (NOT the workable fixative). Spray a couple of light layers, let dry a few minutes and do 1 heavier layer, wait til it's dry and paint away. The other things you can use are Richeson's Stephen Quiller Acrylics Matte Polymer medium mixed 3 parts medium to 1 part water...pour over the surface and QUICKLY (i.e. ONE PASS ONLY) brush to cover the entire surface. Let dry and paint. In lieu of the matte polymer, you can also mix Weldbond glue 2 parts glue to 3 parts water and use the same method as with the polymer. If you brush more than one pass, you risk moving the casein around.

One other note for those just starting with casein - the emulsion should not be used as a medium. The emulsion can be used in two different ways: First, if you wish to make your own caseins. Emulsion is mixed with powdered pigment into a paste and then thinned with water to an appropriate consistency for painting. Second is for glazing - mix a small amount of paint into a little emulsion to disperse the pigment evenly (it makes the sometimes "grainy" paint smoother and more easier to apply evenly) and then thin this mixture with water.

John Molnar will be teaching a casein class at Richeson's in late winter. Info is at www.richesonart.com (http://www.richesonart.com) if anyone is interested.

Happy painting!

09-08-2006, 05:08 PM
Stanley Arts, Thank you so much for all this information, especially about the oil of cloves. I don't normally notice odors with paints or solvents so it was such a surprise to notice it with the caseins. No doubt I will use all of the tips you suggested, as I am truly excited about painting with the caseins. Your sharing this information is very generous and appreciated.

Thanks again,

09-08-2006, 05:37 PM
Stanley Arts, I had a few comments on your posting. Not to disagree, necessarily, just to add more feedback.

Oil of cloves is an ordorant that masks the odor of ammonia with cloves, but it doesn't actually remove it. The ammonia is still present and proper ventillation should be used. Clove is perhaps more pleasant for people to smell, however. It functions as a preservative as well. Sassafrass can also be used. Be aware you're adding a slight liquid oil content.

The mediums and sprays you mention all add acrylic content, resins or polymers, to the mix that may be unwanted or unnecessary. I've sometimes used clear shellac as an isolation barrier in layers. It's equally as reversible as the paint and dries quickly. It should be used thinly and sparingly.

About your comment on the emulsion, you say not to use it as a medium. Could you elaborate on that? I ask because you follow that statement with two examples of using it as a medium.:confused:

It's good to have someone here who may have some indirect contact with Jack Richeson Co. Thanks for posting.