I hope everyone has had a good Christmas and is looking forward to a New Year - hopefully 2017 will be much better than the last. Always hopeful.
For a very long time now, I've been following artist James Gurney's "The Gurney Journey" blog (which just hit its 10th anniversary). James is a big proponent of Casein as a medium, and the way he's been blogging about its qualities I lent myself toward trying it out. I've tried quite a lot of mediums over the years, but still haven't really found one that I'd call my favourite. Enthusiasm for a new experience drags me into a medium, the excitement builds and then as I put paint to canvas (or engraver to metal, tool to clay, knife to styrene, the list goes on) and I struggle with the complexities of that medium's "personality", I tend toward looking for another medium.
Casein in a milk-based medium - it works like goauche and can be applied in the same manner, is compatible with watercolour and gouache, can be used as an underpainting for oils. Its very versatile, and (apparently) can achieve rich colour depths. Its opaque, stinks like a candy-store steeped in antiseptic and has a nice brushfeel.
This painting is a basic study/adaptation of a still from the movie "Rogue One." I was attracted to the photo because of its centered warm colours, contrasting with the drab and dark surroundings. It seemed like a good subject to get to know casein, and to try out a block of Arches 300lb watercolour paper (I've always stretched it in the past, but this is just a glued pad). The window backdrop is a bunch of watercolour washes, and then I moved onto Jyn and the interior completely with casein, building up from thin washes, to thick opaques where necessary. I enjoyed the painting and made swift progress, though the fumes were a bit stifling, I did get used to it. Two things I don't like about it, or rather, haven't gotten fully used to yet, is that its very hard to paint really thick opaques: getting the mixture of water to medium right enough so that it paints smoothly, yet opaquely, seems tough. Secondly, when wet, its much darker than it is when dry. I thought I'd be able to deal with this, since I've painted with gouache a lot on the past. Its fine to paint with on the first pass, but if you have to do a correction in the middle of a patch, or blend an area out, its very tough to gauge the surrounding colour and mix appropriately. You can only tell if its the right colour after its dry, and by then, its very difficult to life out with any accuracy as you can with watercolour (but you can still paint over, or glaze over). I'm sure that with practice it won't be an issue.
I didn't want to slavishly reproduce the photo, though it is close to the finished product. I am quite pleased with my first outing, though its not a very technically finished piece, I completed the goals I set out to achieve with it.
Media: Richeson Casein on 300lb Arches watercolour paper, 8x10.
EDIT: After some semi-constructive feedback, I went back to the painting and refined some of Jyn's face, notably softening the eyes, areas around the lips and nose, and basically trying to smooth out her face. Casein isn't particularly helpful to doing patchwork - basically every colour you mix ends up looking the same, so you tend not to notice what colour you are laying down until its down on the board. So if its a wrong value, you have to patch it out again, and maybe the areas you are working with because they're different. I found out you can "lift" a little and blend by rubbing the area down pretty hard, but you definitely need a heavy support for this. Anyway, for better or for worse, it has been updated.