View Full Version : Casein beginner's help?

04-04-2007, 12:23 PM
I just ordered a couple casein tubes and am looking forward to playing with these. Are there any good links to threads or websites with some introductions and hints on how to best use them? I saw the info sticky here, but the topics don't go into the basics as much I think. Richeson has good info on their site, just wondering if there might be other places to poke around.

Regarding ammonia water, I assume that's water where you ad a bit of ammonia? If so, how much ammonia do you add? It's not the greatest smelling thing in the world, but I use tiny amounts on my sta-wet pallet for acrylics to prevent mold. Works great so far.



04-04-2007, 09:20 PM
Hi Oliver,

I, myself, do not use ammonia water. I believe that is used when creating your very own casein paint by mixing pigment and emulsion. BUT, I could be wrong, often am. :D

I use the tubed casein and I mix it with distilled water. Casein dries very quickly, so keep your brushes wet. I put very little paint, and only the colors I plan to use, on my palette at any time because it does dry so fast.

It is also a brittle paint and should not be put on too thick at first because it may crack over time. If you like to add lots of paint, then use gessoed hard board or canvas covered hard board. I prefer the surface of the canvas covered hard board or a sanded pastel board.

Casein is opaque. but you can thin it with water and create layered effects by adding colors on top of colors.

I've used casein as an under paint for pastels and oils for years and really started seriously painting with it last year. I love the vibrancy of casein and its easy use in plein air painting.

I hope some of this babbling has helped. Have fun!


04-05-2007, 11:59 AM
I've not discovered any useful sites or books that discuss casein painting in any detail, personally. There's one book that I have not yet tracked down by Leonard Brooks called "Course in Casein Painting." (http://www.leonardbrooksartist.com/Books/Leonard_Brooks_Books_Published-Art.html)What sort of "basics" are you looking for?

Ammonia is not really needed for general painting use. I find the principle of a sta-wet palette not necessary, since I don't feel a need to preserve the paint between sessions. Unlike acrylics, casein will re-wet with water rather easily.

04-06-2007, 07:28 AM
My resource for casein information was the Artist's Handbook. It doesn't have a lot, but what it did have was helpful.


04-06-2007, 07:52 AM
David & Oliver,

I did find Leonard Brooks' book on painting with casein on amazon. There were four books up for sell, now there are three.:D

Thanks for the info. :wave:

04-06-2007, 10:43 AM
Cool. Let me know what you think of the book.

04-11-2007, 12:17 PM
thanks everybody, I just got my paints yesterday and am anxious to try them. Regarding what basics I'm looking for, basically just general handling instructions and do this but don't do that things.

For example, I like to paint very wet, with drips and runs to add visual texture. Will that work with Casein? If you wet acrylics too much, the pigment doesn't adhere very well anymore, since the binder is too diluted. Probably the same will happen with casein eventually?

I assume they can be combined with any other water media and it seems like you can paint with oil over them. Is there a particular period I should wait before painting over? I read somewhere that over time they become pretty much permanent, unlike watercolor which remains water soluble for ever.

There's not much info I can find online. would be curious what you think about the book Janice!

[edit] I looked at Amazon and since the book is only $10 - now there are only two left :)
I'll post once I get it if I think it's good!



04-11-2007, 07:22 PM
:wave: Oliver,

I haven't tried caseins in the fashion you mentioned. Please let me know how it goes. I may have to try it myself.

I use it in thin watered down layers and it works okay. Some colors mix better than others. If you haven't gotten a tube of halftone black, treat yourself and buy a tube. You'll be amazed how it enhances your darks. The other is payne's grey.

Use hard boards to paint with as canvas will undulate and the casein will crack over time. I use an acid free hardboard that I cover with gesso laced with pumice. I also use canvas covered hardboards and I love them. Experiment! I do every time I paint, or so it seems. :D

I'll definitely give a report on the book when I get it.


04-25-2007, 10:09 PM
I have painted casein just on watercolor paper, using very thin paint, really just another way of doing watercolor itself. But the cards I have made don't seem to crack and they are safer for sending because, yes, the watercolor will run if it gets wet, even years later. When I am planning to do a lot of casein paintings and when I have tried, very badly, to paint plein air, I have put paint into the compartments of a seven-day pill holder. When I finish painting I spray the paint with water, put the holder in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator until next time. For a palette, I usually use left over styrofoam trays from the grocery store - they should be outlawed, but since they are here at least they get two uses. I have never used ammonia water, but then there is lots I don't know. I have heard it is good for cleaning up after painting with casein and I do make a mess often.

04-26-2007, 06:19 PM
thanks, good idea with the cards, had not thought of that! I have some of those pill containers for water colors too, work pretty good.
I also got the book Course in Casein Painting mentioned above. As I expected, since it's rather old, there are only a couple pages in color. Color printing was just too expensive back then. Since I'm in the middle of two classes with acrylics and oils right now, I've had to put the casein on the back burner, but a quick scan of the book makes me thing that it will have enough information to get started. I want to combine all water media like Stephen Quiller does, one of my favorite contemporary painters. I'll report eventually :)

By the way, I just read in a cooking magazine that casein in milk is the protein that helps if you eat really hot peppers, it somewhat neutralizes the capsin that sets your mouth on fire.