View Full Version : Using Casein with Oil Pastel

06-29-2008, 05:42 PM


What these images show is a small demonstration of how I'm able to use casein binder on top of oil pastels to create isolation layers between each color. This allows me to mix colors, even lighter shades on darker to some degree, and not have the colors blend together. The result is a rough texture of "broken color" instead of a muddy mess that some of you may be familiar with.

The images show oil pastels (Pentel brand) in four colors of black, orange, green and blue on 300# hot-pressed watercolor paper. On the righ side is how it looks normally when you draw colors on top of darker ones, like black. On the left and in closeup is what it looks like when using casein painted between each color.

For those of you not familair with casein, there's a thread on WC here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=345)where more information is available, or I have updated versions on my own website (http://www.dbclemons.com/articles.htm).

I'm still working out any bugs on this since I've just started playing around with it, but feel free to ask any questions. I recommend not using thin paper, since the casein could cause it to buckle and it'd be too flexible for the binder, but heavy-weight watercolor paper, illustration board, or wood panels would be better.

I've also tried this with wax crayons and it even works better. If you notice in the closeup on the right side some of the black pigment lifted away into the casein that was added which can desaturate the colors slightly, since the oil pastel binder is rather weak. This was less noticeable with crayons.

I'm honestly not sure how many layers of casein is "safe." I've gone up to four without noticing any trouble. General advice for casein paint is to not get it too thick, which is also true for oil pastels to some degree, but in this case it's actually multiple layers applied thinly, so I think it should behave okay. You can also use casein paint instead of the clear binder if you wish. Richeson Shiva is a commercial brand of casein, and they sell the binder also, but it's very simple to make your own.

06-29-2008, 08:55 PM
Dave, thanks for sharing this ongoing experiment with us. I am personally not familiar with caseine and its characteristics and will be interested in checking out the links you have given to learn more. Hopefully you will get some comments from those with more experience with both of the two media. Certainly the issue of compatibility and long term archival properties would be important to assess.

Thanks again for an interesting experiment and we hope you will keep us updated as you investigate this more.


Pat Isaac
06-30-2008, 07:51 AM
Thanks for sharing this interesting experiment with us Dave. I used casein paint in college for illustrative classes, but have not used it since. My only issue is the compatibility over time as oil pastels never dry. I am going to read the links you offered for more info. Pleas keep us updated with the info and experiments.


06-30-2008, 09:56 AM
I've used casein as a painting medium with oils or wax for years. They're completely compatible with each other in that regards, but this is the first time I've tried them with pastels or crayons. I'm working on a casein painting now where I wanted that texture. The one caution I have in mind is that as casein cures over a few months it hardens, and oil pastels made with petroleum based materials never harden completely, but I don't believe it loses volume the way oil paint does, especially with wax content. As long as there's no movement or shrinking in the surface below the casein, it should be fine.