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Old 04-17-2018, 10:55 AM
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Delofasht Delofasht is offline
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Casein as a Size

Recently obtained some Crescent RendR paper and had been trying various media when I discovered that watercolor seems to have some distinct flaws. In an effort to make the watercolor work a bit better on this paper, I decided to put a couple coats of Casein emulsion, diluted with water to a thin consistency on the paper. The paper took a surprisingly long time to dry and I needed to clip it down so that it would dry flat. After 2 weeks of allowing my coats to dry thoroughly, I painted on the pages with watercolor and was happily surprised to find that it took the watercolor in a completely different way.

Before priming, I cannot really lift color on this paper very well, everything stains very heavily into the surface. Layering watercolor resulted in progressively getting darker and not mixing very well. Color pooling at edges and drifting back into others but not blending was common.

After priming, I can now lift colors just by dampening them and blotting with a paper towel or by putting water down and then using a dry brush to soak up the color. Layering watercolor results in colors blending and mixing. Color no longer pools at edges (with the accompanying drying edge splotches), blending is simple and edges are very easy to control.

So, as a size, Casein works amazingly for making surfaces resistant to water being deeply absorbed into the surface. It also keeps the surface protected, coating the fibers and keeping them from being as susceptible to oxidation. If you happen to have a large amount of paper lying around that you need to use, sizing it with Casein for use with other media is a great way to put it to good use.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:59 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: Casein as a Size

Thanks for this, Delo. I've been considering trying something like it for gouache. Do you use a particular brand of casein emulsion for your size?
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:45 PM
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Re: Casein as a Size

Most economical source of Casein emulsion I found was Richeson’s Shiva brand. Works a treat, really made my watercolor be able to be lifted off the paper, almost back to the white of the surface. Interesting thing about Casein is that it basically compatible with every media, as usual though it does become more brittle with time so laminating your finished work to a rigid surface still remains good practice. Since I am using these surfaces for sketches though, I do not much mind if they shatter in 25 years, so I have taken no such precautions but expect little real issues should I make something I do actually want to keep I will just cut it out of the sketchbook and adhere it to a solid surface then.

Also, I do suggest doing a sample sheet first, try it on one page just to see how it works for you before doing a large batch. I must admit I am looking forward to the next day that I am feeling difficulty getting some painting done, totally doing a big batch of these.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:31 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: Casein as a Size

Thanks. I'm thinking of this for illustrations, where preserving the original isn't so important—and I'll be using a fairly stable surface to paint on in any case (matting stock). So I may or may not mount the paper onto panel.

One more question: Does the casein ground have any gloss to it, or does it remain matte? Hoping for the latter for photographing and reproduction.
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Old 04-23-2018, 06:23 PM
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Re: Casein as a Size

Casein is very matte when used as a size or ground.

In fact, it's very matte when used as the actual paint itself as well unless one buffs the cured surface. It used to be used for illustration prior to the popularization of Acrylic.
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Old 04-24-2018, 03:40 AM
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Re: Casein as a Size

Excellent. I'd forgotten about that, and about how matte the casein looked the few times I tried it out (years ago, now). Thank you!
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Old 09-02-2018, 07:01 AM
steve.sens steve.sens is offline
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Re: Casein as a Size

great info here! I am trying casein as a ground for metal point drawing. So far, silver will tarnish within minutes on a fresh touch dry piece of coated paper. The squeak is crazy with silver though. Nickel has had some unique characteristics on fresh ground, no squeak, and it practically disappears after 12-24 hrs, leaving a creamy yellow trace. This could be an interesting behavior though, as an underdrawing. The pieces I have been experimenting with are only a week old, so I'm curious what will happen as the weeks go on.
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:36 AM
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Re: Casein as a Size

Interesting, I had not tried it with silverpoint. If I recall correctly, grounds made with Casein for silverpoint included some kind of powdered dust, either gypsum, chalk, mable dust, or silica. Any of those should work to give the surface the kind of tooth that best holds the silver particles best. I have not ever drawn in Nickel before, I will be sure to remember it when next I go looking for drawing supplies.
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:52 PM
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Kaylen Kaylen is offline
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Re: Casein as a Size

Delo,,, I'm going to buy some of that,,,how much do you need for a sheet? or for 5? how diluted ?Just wondering if I should get more than one bottle?
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