Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Casein Six Pack

Here are a few casein paintings created with a super-limited palette of just six colors.

I call this set my "Six Pack": Titanium white, ivory black, Venetian red, yellow ochre, cobalt blue, and raw umber.

The emphasis in this painting is on the warm sky and the cool shadows on the near side. I didn't use black on this one. The darks are made with cobalt blue, Venetian red and raw umber.

Darks often have more character if they're made up of loose mixtures of warm and cool colors.

The main reason for the black is for painting in grisaille. There's no better way to learn about a new painting medium than to paint a still life using nothing but black and white.

Because the Six Pack doesn't have high-chroma reds and yellows, it automatically gives you a slightly faded, old world feeling, like the color of memories.

It also doesn't let you mix strong greens, which can be a good thing. Instead, it forces you to interpret the scene in terms of simple warm/cool oppositions.

You can see this focus on warm vs. cool in the work of classic British landscapists like J.M.W Turner, David Roberts, and Richard Parkes Bonington.

Here's a video showing how I work out the sky and background first, then the smaller verticals, and finally the delicate wires, using a graphite pencil over the dry paint.

The Jack Richeson company, who makes the only artist-grade casein I know of, liked my Six Pack idea, and they asked if they could offer it as a set.

Gurney's Casein 6 Pack:
Titanium white, ivory black, Venetian red, yellow ochre, cobalt blue, and raw umber.

Gurney's Casein 6 Pack with Brush Set
Amazon offers the six-color set with a portable set of synthetic brushes in a travel holder.

I also suggested a wider assortment of colors if you want to start off with a fuller gamut.

Gurney's Casein Explorers Pack contains: titanium white, ivory black, alizarin crimson, cadmium red scarlet, cad yellow light, cad yellow medium, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue deep, chrome oxide green, burnt sienna, raw sienna, raw umber.

This set is non-overlapping except for the commonly used colors white, black and raw umber. That way you can start with either one and expand to the other.


Steven Thor Johanneson said...

James ... Nice to see a limited palette. I often use in Oil landscapes just Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue and Cremnitz White. That is still my starting point for most landscapes, to which I will add other colours as necessary, first Cerulean and Ultramarine Blues & a yellow, Hansa or a Cadmium to expand my range of greens. Most of the time I will not need anything more than those colours, but W&N Permanent Rose, Cadmium Orange & Red, Cobalt Violet, Burnt Sienna, Rublev's Cyprus Dark Umber are held in reserve. I also have a variety of Earth Reds, as I collect them, since they are all a bit different from one another.

Steven Thor Johanneson said...

I suppose I should add that Chromium Oxide Green is there too, as well as various Terre Vertes, and a tube of Viridian, but I rarely use a tube green, preferring to mix the greens.

Steven Thor Johanneson said...

I don't know why comments get published twice, but I removed the duplicates above.

ko said...

Love the idea of "... the color of memories"

GJ said...

This harks back, doesn't it, to the question of Anders Zorn [which you plunged into in 2011]. Interesting to note you can get into the greens via yellow ochre and bone black. {As Shiskin also knew.] GJ

Daroo said...

Great idea -- glad you did this.

It seemed to me the six pack was a modified version of James Perry Wilson's limited palette -- but looking back at the GJ post, he used Ultramarine Blue instead of cobalt.


Hi Jim,

Reading your blog today reminded me of Maurice Sendak. I thought you might find it interesting that, until almost the end, when he got some newer paints, Maurice did all his most famous works with just a set of children’s poster paints, that boxed set of eight small jars we used to use in the first grade: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, brown, and black. He was convinced that they would never fade.

Best Regards Mel

Jessica P said...

You could use any palette; you'll still make it glow.

Steven said...

In a few of your videos you used casein to wash your background such as your recent farm painting with red background yet when I let the casein dry for a few days it reactivates with gouache. I was wondering how did you prevent this from happening james? Thanks so much!

James Gurney said...

Steven: Light touch! Try to put down one touch and leave it.

Steven said...

Are you talking about the Casein or Gouache James? haha Thanks for your reply.

James Gurney said...

Steven, both, really. Gouache is very sensitive to rewetting and scrubbing, but even casein will reactivate if it has only been dry a short time. The proteins in the binder firm up over a few days. If you want a paint emulsion with more resistance to reactivation, I would recommend acryla gouache or acrylic.

Berit said...

Neat! I like the six packs for sale! Fun idea and team-up.

Janet Oliver said...

Thank you for this post, James. It came at exactly the right stage of a drawing/painting I am working on. I first used Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils to lay down the colors then used a thin coat of oils in the same colors over that. The resulting mixes are just what I was trying to achieve.

mjartist said...

Just received my Casein paint and brush order, I am looking to have some fun with them! Thanks for the inspiration!