Monday, April 29, 2013

Casein Sketch, Krak des Chevaliers

Got inspired by James Gurney's outdoor casein sketch to haul out the caseins again. I'm trying to get used to the color shift again after working in oils for a while, but it's fun. This is from a photo (not mine) of the Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval Crusader castle in Syria. Thinking enviously of Richard Parkes Bonington and his amazing light. Caseins are a great medium for having fun--they dry absolutely matte, so they reproduce really well, and it forces you to consider your colors much more seriously than the glossy mediums like oil and acrylic because it's too easy to let the gloss "enrich" the color for you. I'm hoping these essays into casein are going to help me stay honest, color-wise.

I've taken to making up my own casein medium from powder. It's not hard, and a lot cheaper than the prepared stuff. This batch was made with casein powder soaked in tap water for a while, then mixed with a hot saturated solution of "40 Mule Team" borax. It turns into a honey-like syrup that's fun to smear around. The cool thing is that the borax also keeps the stuff from rotting for quite a while. You can make casein using ammonia or ammonium nitrate as well, but it's really prone to rotting and stinks of ammonia unless you heat it to drive it all off. Basically just making the stink go really bad for a shorter time. I've got a parrot, so I prefer to avoid those sorts of things.