Monday, January 9, 2017

Casein in International Artist Magazine

The new Feb/March 2017 issue of International Artist magazine has an article on casein painting with facsimile pages from my sketchbook reproduced nearly full size.

It also includes the following answers to frequently asked questions:

Yes, but first it’s worth considering leaving the casein unvarnished. The matte surface can be very attractive, and it photographs well. The value range can be extended in Photoshop after it’s shot. You can also buff the surface with a T-shirt to give it semi-gloss. For a shinier surface and deeper darks, there are two choices. First is the liquid varnish, applied with a brush. Wait at least a week or two before varnishing. Brush it on lightly to avoid disturbing the dry paint.

A spray varnish can also work. Both brush-on and spray-on varnishes require several coats because they tend to soak into the surface, especially if the painting is done on absorbent paper or illustration board. For those substrates, it can take over four coats before you start seeing much gloss or darkening of the darks. A surface primed at the beginning with gesso, or a thick layer of casein that fills the paper’s pores allows the varnish to float on the surface more.

Drying time depends on the heat and humidity, as with other water media such as acrylic and gouache. It will dry to the touch anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or so. You can slow the drying time of the paint blobs on the palette by squeezing out the tubes on damp paper towels. A spritz of water from a spray bottle can also keep it alive a little longer. Casein is unusual in that the proteins in the milk emulsion continue to strengthen after the paint has dried to the touch. So after a few days or weeks, the paint will be more durable than paint that has just dried.

Casein can be used semitransparently, but it has great opacity when you need it. The paint has a unique, unforgettable aroma. The milk-based binder seals each layer enough so that the paint won’t reactivate with later application. The paint dries to an attractive matte surface that photographs very well, particularly in saturated tints, which is one of the reasons it was so popular with early illustrators.

The issue has features on Linda Gendall, Geoffrey Johnson, Mark Harrison, Robert Brindley, Jacqui Grantford, David Kitler, Amanda Hyatt, and Tiziana Ciaghi.

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 (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).

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Unknown said...

Hello james! i just want to say your work is amazing , you inspire me everyday, sometimes i put your videos again an again to keep absorbing all the information you give is amazing, ive also read your books, color and light its my favorite.

i have a question, can you recomend a book, or several books about dinosaurs? meaning, a book their life or anatomy , what they eated, stuff like that.

Biff said...

Hi, I recently started experimenting with casein (and gouache) and have a couple of questions:

With oil paints, I premix colors and their values on my palette before applying them to the canvas. But with both casein and gouache the paint dries so fast that my method becomes a bit of a struggle. I'd prefer not to abandon my method- any suggestions? (I put the tube colors onto a damp strip of cloth and then mix these on my dry glass palette).

I recently bought some casein emulsion medium because I noticed that some of my tube paint was coming out dry even though I squeezed the tubes beforehand. I've yet to use it but is there any advice on how best to use casein emulsion? And in relation to the first question, would the addition of casein emulsion slow the drying time?

I really appreciate your blog and have enjoyed all of your 'in the wild' videos. Maybe some day you'll do a 'wild artist in the studio' series. Haha :)

James Gurney said...

Hi, Biff,
I've tried using casein emulsion, but haven't had a whole lot of luck with it, or reason to use it. The manufacturers say it helps the paint emulsion maintain integrity when it's thinned down. The problem I had with it was that it started to set up inside the little jar before I could use it. I don't know if it would slow drying time (My guess is that it would). I've tried putting a blog of the emulsion down on a scrap of board and let it dry for weeks and it always remained a little gummy.

As for premixing, I would suggest limiting the palette at the level of the ingredient colors, which could be either 3 or 4 tube colors or a set of big "source blobs" that you keep on the damp paper towel on the side of the palette.

Jesus, I'd recommend the textbook "The Complete Dinosaur" by Michael Brett Surman as a general introduction, but I haven't checked out the field of books lately. I usually refer to the scientific papers of the individual dinosaurs I'm illustrating.

Gary said...

I got the dvd, the earth tone starter set and a couple more colors. I thought, "If this doesn't work out, I will just blame that Gurney guy." In fact it has been a hoot, the sort of thing that keeps us seniors off the street and out of trouble. Thanks, Gary said...
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As for premixing, I would suggest limiting the palette at the level of the ingredient colors, which could be either 3 or 4 tube colors or a set of big "source blobs" that you keep on the damp paper towel on the side of the palette.. said...

make animation as part of the user itself.