Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Husky Portrait in Casein

Casein gives you a safety net when you're painting animals because you can switch to a new pose halfway through. That's what happens during this portrait of Smooth, the husky. (Link to video on Facebook)

I start out with a sleeping pose, assuming he'll stay there longer. But the squirrels act up outside the window, and he lifts his head up to an alert pose that I like better.

Making a big change like this demands a spirit of faith and carefree risk-taking. No worries—it's just paint, and any mistake can be corrected.

With oil, it would be better to rub off a failed start, or else the paint would get muddy. But with casein, you can paint opaquely over a previous passage without lifting it up.

Smooth alternately goes to sleep, wanders off, and checks his food dish. But with a little encouragement, he comes back to the window. When he does, I make corrections and try to commit the details to memory.

I like painting animals because it keeps me on me toes as a painter, sharpening my attention and speeding my decision-making. For me, efficiency of technique and speed of execution aren't central goals of art, but they're a by-product of a heightened state of consciousness.
I'm editing a 15 minute version this (very detailed step by step) that I'll release in a future tutorial on animal painting.
Check out my casein painting tutorial video:
Download "Casein Painting in the Wild" at Gumroad
Download "Casein Painting in the Wild" at Sellfy: Buy now
DVD from the manufacturer (ships worldwide)
Gurney's Casein 6 Pack is white, black, cobalt blue, raw umber, Venetian red, and yellow ochre
Pentalic 5" x 8" watercolor book


Robert Cosgrove said...

Just lovely. Amazing job on Smooth's muzzle, among other things.

Dylan Cole said...

Amazing work!

Jim Douglas said...

Jim, I love the dark red passages in Smooth's dark coat. How much of that color did you see and how much was invented to contrast with cooler elements in the painting? A lie to tell the truth so to speak.

humza khan said...

man that's gorgeous!!!

Mary Aslin said...

This is just a wonderful painting....

Jim Serrett said...

I could watch that over and over. Makes me smile.

Spinnintires said...

Awesome work as always. I know that you are very fond of casein, but you have also used Holbein Acryla Gouache. I have tried neither and can only invest in one. The Acryla reads like it has all the same properties/handling/appearance as casein, but is less 'fragile' for lack of a better word. (I realize casein is archival IF follow the rules) Which dries faster? Can I get your insight as to why you prefer casein in order to get me off the fence?

James Gurney said...

Spinnintires, You're right -- they're similar, but casein has a weaker emulsion strength, which makes it more brittle, but it flows off the brush more easily. If I were getting one kind of opaque paint I'd get gouache.