As I wrote about last time, I had heard about casein paints and set out to investigate whether they would provide a good alternative medium for me to use. I learned a lot from my initial studio trial, but I also wanted to see if the paint could be used with watercolor techniques to achieve a freer, more flowing appearance.
Trial #2: My second trial was on 140# watercolor paper. My main interest was to see if the paint could be applied wet into wet, like watercolor. Using a still-life setup similar to the one I had used for the first trial, I blended the red with some burnt sienna on my palette so I wouldn’t be faced with the glazing problems I had incurred previously. I wet the watercolor paper and applied the paint. The wet-into-wet technique did provide a somewhat smoother spread of pigment. But after that initial application, the surface seemed to dry just as quickly as in the initial trial. I realized from this that watercolor techniques would be difficult to use with this kind of paint.
I had to continually remoisten the paints on my palette to keep them workable, though I found that the pile of titanium white left over from the previous day’s work didn’t absorb the water as easily or as evenly as I had expected. I finally gave up on trying to reuse it and squeezed out a fresh supply.
Having experimented with mixing the colors during the first trial, I felt more confident about finding appropriate blends for the second trial. Mixing on the palette proved more successful than attempting to glaze or blend colors directly on the paper. But I had to achieve soft edges and transitions by scumbling or optical mixing rather than by using wet-into-wet bleeds or by dragging one hue into another. And I found that the dark-to-light approach was more suitable for this medium than watercolor’s light-to-dark approach, which I generally prefer.
Buffing didn’t prove quite as successful on the paper surface as it had on the sealed surface of the canvas-textured paper in the first trial. This may have been because the absorbent paper had left a thinner coating of paint over most of the surface by the end of the second trial than there had been over the first painting. I was also more cautious about buffing areas into which the red pigment might encroach, so didn’t press as firmly, which may have kept it from reaching a higher gloss. Overall, though, I was more satisfied with the results of the second trial (see “White Pitcher,” above).
Next time I’ll try out the casein paints on a canvas panel. Check back to see what difference that surface makes.