Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Casein Week, Day One

I goofed around a little with casein paint when I was in art school, but then I forgot about it. I moved on to oil, gouache, and watercolor. Fast-forward thirty years. In 2013 at an art convention I learned it was still being manufactured, so I thought I'd give it a try again.

Mountain Stream, casein, 5 x 8 inches
When I unscrewed the cap and inhaled the unique smell, the memories of my art school days flooded back.

Part of my fascination with the medium is that it's old fashioned. It was a favorite of many of the old-school illustrators I admire, such as John Berkey and Harry Anderson. Casein was popular with illustrators for the same reasons as gouache. It dries fast to a matte surface and the colors photograph well. The slight difference from gouache is that it has a milk-based binder, which seals just enough so that it won't reactivate with successive layers (unless you really scrub).


If you've been following the blog, you'll know that casein has become one of my favorite media for outdoor painting. Here's a link to all 52 blog posts tagged with "casein."

My newest Gumroad tutorial "Casein Painting in the Wild" releases today.



Here's the first trailer. (Link to YouTube) I tackle seven different painting challenges from start to finish and show you a wealth of practical tips that you can apply to other kinds of opaque water-based media, such as acrylic or gouache.


I'm told that casein is hard to find in Europe, but you can get it in the USA from Amazon. If you can't find casein in your region, no worries. You can substitute gouache or Acryla Gouache and get very similar results.

Links and resources
"Casein Painting in the Wild"
HD Digital download on Gumroad (Credit cards)
HD Digital download on Sellfy (Paypal) Buy now
DVD at Kunaki (ships worldwide) or Amazon
Casein Explorers Pack (12) (A good introductory palette that gives you pretty wide gamut.)
Casein 6 Pack (The colors I used for this painting. On its own, it's a rather muted palette. It makes a good supplement to the 12 pack.)
Casein 6-pack with travel brush set (Same set as above with the short-handled set).

The manufacturer Richeson put together the sets based on the colors I usually use. Full disclosure: I get a small percentage when you buy a set of caseins from the Amazon links above. The Richeson company did not sponsor me to make the video, nor did they review or approve the content.

If you have any questions about casein, please ask them in the comments, and I'll answer some of them tomorrow.

12 comments:

hypnopoodles said...

i picked up your casein explorers pack a few weeks ago because of your blog, and was super pumped to hear about this video. So I eagerly awaited and picked that up as soon as I got the email. Really digging it! Thanks for breathing life back into this medium.

Do you know of any great works of art done in casein? And on another note, do artists ever work large with gouache and casein? I'm not sure I've ever seen a gouache painting spanning several feet

Koushik said...

Wonderful video James! Filled with insights, as always.

I have a couple of Qs after watching through:

1) How do you pick a limited palette apriori? For instance, in the painting at Lowell's, you picked a very low chroma yellow palette (with black literally being the cool color). Do you decide up front which gamut you're going to use, pick suitable primaries, then interpret things within that range? As in, you could just as well do your fall Wyoming painting (Torrey creek) using say, a strong blue, a cool red and a muted yellow (like ochre)? I'm just asking because I'm trying to understand how you fix your color gamut without any pre-mixing by limiting your pigment choices.

2) You mention varnish in the section on birch panels. You appear to be using some sort of brush-on varnish (made by Richeson I presume) for your finished pieces. In one of your earlier posts on GJ you've mentioned trying the Richeson varnish on paper and having it soak into the surface repeatedly. How would you varnish something that is painted on say, illustration board? Does the clear coat spray work better instead? Additionally, how long do you wait before varnishing (with either brush-on or spray)? I know the emulsion strengthens with time - even though the surface is dry to touch, Richeson says it might take several weeks before the paint film completely sets!

Many thanks for a wonderful video again. Keep 'em coming!

-KV

Matt Dicke said...

Picked up the video and excited to see and hear your experiences with Casein. Haven't finished yet but as I suspected so far so good! The first 3 paintings didn't disappoint and were great to see. THe boat house was really great. Out of curiosity, now that you have used gouache and casein for extended periods recently, and made videos on both, do you have a preference of Gouache or Casein as an alternative to oil? There are many times when dealing with solvents is not possible and having a water based medium that has a similar feel and handling to oil is needed. Though I wish the ammonia smell of Casein wasn't as strong it has properties that other water based mediums have that are hard to ignore. Thanks you for all the inspiration.
Regards.
Matt

Jared Cullum said...

I've been son excited for this!! I got it and already watched it once. I also got 'Alla Prima II' and Edgar Paynes Composition book this week so this should be a good month to push forward and learn a lot.
Thanks for the videos. You always have the edge on creative, interesting and informative tutorial videos. Your and Jeanette's hard work is appreciated.

Gary said...

Is it advisable to order an additional, larger tube of Titanium white with the casein sets? In some media (acrylic gouache) it is difficult to paint opaquely without it.

I have ordered the DVD and perhaps this issue is addressed there.

Thanks, Gary

NJ Peng said...

I've found in London that I can find the casein binder (L. Cornelissen & Son sells it) but not premanufactured paints. Have you experimented in making your own casein paints? I'm not too familiar with the process. :)

Donald Pittenger said...

Ah, casein!

That was my weapon while a commercial art student at the University of Washington in the late-50s, early 60s. Casein on illustration board.

I remember the smell.

And I remember that I had real trouble laying a large area of solid color -- usually got a blotchy effect. That could well have been my ineptness. But then ... excuses, excuses ... the faculty made a point of teaching us as little as they could get away with because they were afraid it would destroy our innate creativity (!!!). So I was never actually instructed in the use of casein (or any other medium, for all practical purposes).

ajfaske said...

I purchased your previous videos through PayPal. Is PayPal not an option for this one?

James Gurney said...

Hi, Ajfaske, thanks for your patience. I'm just having a hard time uploading the file to Sellfy and Cubebrush for some reason. I'll keep trying and let you know. Gumroad says they allow Paypal payments http://blog.gumroad.com/post/120038042813/paypal
but I couldn't find how you get there.

Matthieu Kiriyama said...

I wish I could put my hands on some casein paint, but I doesn't seem like they're available here in Japan (A set of 6 colors from Richeson sells for a hefty 100 to 180 dollars on Amazon). Is Richeson the only manufacturer you know of that I could look into? I understand that milk paint is a popular medium for painting furniture, but not every brand is suitable for fine arts?

(I have the same problem of not being able to buy your new video with Paypal the way I did on Sellfy before.)

Warren JB said...

"I'm told that casein is hard to find in Europe, but you can get it in the USA from Amazon."

Indeed! I've looked at Pelikan plaka, but I don't know if it's quite the same quality. There's binder/medium too, as NJ Peng says. Talens casein binder is apparently intended for use with oil paints rather than pure pigment - I'm not sure how that affects the final product.

Matthieu: I've noticed similar high prices on Amazon.co.uk. Here, Richeson casein is significantly cheaper to order from Amazon.com, despite import fees. Changing the 'ship to' setting to Japan, the total is even less.

I haven't gone for it myself, just yet, but...

"Full disclosure: I get a small percentage when you buy a set of caseins from the Amazon links above."

... there's another incentive.

ajfaske said...

Sellfy download via PayPal was successful! Thanks!