Monday, September 30, 2013

Icelandic Sheep in Casein

Last week we helped with the sheep shearing duties at Dancing Lamb Farm. 
In between cleaning the fleeces, I paused to do a casein sketch of one of the sheep who was dozing in the clover.

I took a few closeups of the painting to address some of the questions that came up during last night's web show. One person asked whether you can draw with colored pencils on the surface of dry paint. 

Usually casein dries with a surface that doesn't take the colored pencil quite as well as watercolor or gouache does. Sometimes the pencil just skids over the surface. But this time it worked, and I used the black colored pencil to quickly note some detail in the horn, cheek, and eye. I was also able to use the fountain pen over the thin paint, as you can see from the image at the top of the post.

Note the thin, semi-transparent layers of blue, yellow, and green applied with a half inch flat brush in the upper left.

There were a couple of other questions last night about impastos and painting light accents. I set up the whole painting for these last light strokes.

I'm working here in a watercolor sketchbook with about 200 gram paper. Because the paper is quite flexible, heavy impastos in casein could crack off because thick passages are rather brittle, more like chalk than plastic. My impastos here are fairly low, still within the safe range for a watercolor paper support. 

If you like to go really crazy with impastos, you should work on a panel, or pre-texture the impastos with acrylic modeling paste, which has more emulsion strength and flexibility than casein. 

The handling of the paint here is very reminiscent of oil. It flows off the brush like oil, but it dries in minutes instead of hours. For the oil painter like me looking for a water-based sketching medium that travels well, this fits the bill pretty well.

Scroll down a couple of posts for links on where to get any of these supplies.   


Tom Hart said...

James: again, great job last night!

Is your casein palette about the same as the one for oils? If you were to limit your casein palette to just (say) three or four colors plus black and white, what would they be?

James Gurney said...

Thanks for being at the webcast, Tom.

For the show last night I had a wide open palette in case I had to hit any high chroma mixtures.

I have been trying a lot of limited palettes. One palette that I really like is white, cobalt blue, golden ochre, venetian red, and raw umber. Here's a painting I did with it:

Unknown said...

What fountain pen do you use? I find it's hard to find ones with good ink flow. When they are good they are great though! My favorites were both my grandmothers so I have no idea where they came from. I lost one in Japan and the other in Scotland, no hope of retrieval!

James Gurney said...

Unknown, I use a Waterman Phileas Red Kultur fountain pen, which is not expensive, but works great:

Anonymous said...

What's your method for photographing your paintings? Or do you typically scan?

Enjoyed the webcast last night!

James Gurney said...

For this one I used a Canon T3i on a tripod in direct sunlight at about F11, 1/60th sec, IS0 100 or so.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, James. It's nice to have a professional artist be so accessible.

Do you happen to know of any cheat sheets for photographing art both inside and outside in different light conditions?

Annie said...

Here and on the webcast you said "I set up the whole painting for these last light strokes." By "set up" do you mean you planned a pattern of lights to lead to the sheep's back? Thanks for a wonderful blog and webcast!

James Gurney said...

Rotm: Check out my post on "photographing paintings":

Also, Dan Dos Santos talks about how to do it indoors with lights and equipment:

Annie, Thanks, and yes, I often save the lightest accents, such as highlights, for the end, because they float on the surface like final seasoning on a serving dish.

Mario said...

As far as I know, Shiva Casein is not sold in Europe, it's really a pity. International (oversea) shipping is expensive and rather slow, just imagine you run out of a color and you need to complete a painting soon.
I wonder if Mr. Richeson is planning to sell this product outside the US.