casein painting!

Here are two paintings from today at El Matador state beach:

elmat_3 elmat_4

these are both Casein on a cold press watercolor block, 6×8″. The palette was titanium white, ultramarine blue deep, cad yellow light, golden ochre, ivory black, burnt umber, burnt sienna, & rose red, all richeson brand.

The short version is that I really like the casein. The major difference between these and the gouache/watercolor paints I usually work with is that the casein is significantly more opaque. In gouache, your ability to paint light over dark (or vice versa) is very limited, as the paint will pick up the underlying color, even if you’ve given it time to dry. You can’t paint white on black on white all day in casein, but it picks up far less of the underlying paint. This makes more ‘structural’ painting easier, as you can lay down a base color, then paint your lights, then your darks, etc. The even, matte surface it dries to helps here as well. It isn’t quite as matte as gouache, but close. The opacity/coverage also makes casein more forgiving than other water based media, as you can repaint passages and boldly restate edges for a cleaner finish. Wet into wet painting is really satisfying here as well: you can generate smooth transitions and slick gradients as well as with any other media I’ve tried, although you have to work quickly as the casein dries fast.

The only thing I’m not 100% sold on yet is the color selection available and the vibrance of some of the colors: the ultramarine blue deep and the burnt umber seem slightly weaker than their w&n watercolor equivalents. and I’m not sure if that’s an unavoidable difference in the media, an optical illusion, or if those colors are just less good than the rest of the available tubes. I intend to do some testing to figure that out, but I think it isn’t a dealbreaker- it performs really well everywhere else.