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The Many Uses of Casein Paint

Casein Paint is a versatile medium. As you will see in this section, casein can used with, or instead of, several other media such as water color, gouache, or as an underlaying for oil paintings.

Casein As a Water Color

The simplest and most direct way of becoming familiar with casein paint is to use it in a manner similar to water color.

Make your usual pencil drawing on a sheet of water-color paper, then squeeze the amount of color from the tube of casein that you would normally use for water color.

Proceed to paint by diluting the casein with water, working in a transparent manner.

You will immediately discover that casein paint merges, blends, and dries similarly to water colors. One important difference is that a casein painting gradually becomes impervious to water after it is completed.

Casein As a Gouache

You can get an opaque effect with casein paint by reducing the amount of water used. You can also achieve more solidity by adding white.

You should not apply casein paint too heavily at one time. Rather, build up weight and opacity through successive thinly painted layers.

An advantage casein colors have over the regular gouache colors is that they lose little of their intensity when drying; the darks lose hardly any.

Along with using water-color paper, try painting on gesso boards and toned papers. You will be amazed at the covering power of casein on the latter, no matter how dark the tone.

Try designing your composition so that some areas of the toned paper remain untouched and form part of the design of the picture, as on the following two pages.

Casein As an Underpainting for Oil

Casein paint makes an excellent underpainting for an oil painting.

Keep the underpainting on the light side, depending upon the oil glazes to give the full color.

Varnish the surface as before, to isolate the casein base. When the varnish is dry, use your oil colors.

You can work with oil in any way you wish, but rich luminosity is best achieved by glazing.

Use your copal painting medium to cut the oil color to the transparent consistency you desire, and apply the color with a soft sable brush.


Keeping in mind that you will not achieve the color you want with the initial glaze, paint a series of glazes until you reach the depth of tone and color you are seeking.

You should allow each glaze to dry before applying another over it. When completed, you treat the picture as an oil painting and can be given a coat of retouch varnish followed by a final varnishing a few months later.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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