Casein

Shiva Richeson Casein Paint for artists

Shiva Richeson Casein is a quick-drying, aqueous medium using a milk-based binding agent, and is one of the most durable mediums known to man. Nine thousand year old Casein cave paintings have been discovered in Asia, and later, the medium was used by Byzantine, Roman and Renaissance artists including the Old Masters.
In 1933, Casein pigments in tubes were developed by Ramon Shiva who relied on the expertise of the artists who used them to help perfect his high-quality paints.


Today, Jack Richeson  manufactures Shiva's Casein colors and is dedicated to bringing back the original quality and formulation of the pigments. Known for their versatility and array of capabilities, Casein paints can be used to create a variety of effects from the rich opaques of oil to thin watercolor washes. Casein paints may be applied to almost any rigid, non-oily surface such as canvas panel, illustration board, heavy watercolor paper, plaster, metal, wood, masonite, or canvas, or linen mounted on masonite. And they can be reworked or layered repeatedly and be used for underpainting.


Because Casein has an exceptional integrity of color and always dries to a perfect matte finish, it is unexcelled for art reproduction. The velvety matte finish can also be buffed to a satin sheen or varnished to produce a resemblance to oils. Over time, Casein pigments become resistant to moisture and as history has proven, the medium has a durability and permanence which has easily stood the test of time.

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Commonly asked Questions regarding Casein Paint

What kind of brushes should I use with Casein and how should I clean them?
You can use almost any kind of brush depending on the effect you want to create everything from stiff white brushes to soft hair watercolor brushes, oil brushes, Chinese brushes and fine points for tempera style. Or, if you really want to get crazy, use all of them together. Because it dries quickly, Casein can be hard on brushes, so make sure you clean them thoroughly with gentle soap and water or a commercial cleaner when your painting day is over.

What kind of water should I use with Casein?
Some people recommend distilled water, but ordinary tap water seems to work just fine.

Is Casein archival?
Yes. Properly done and with a protective varnish, Caseins can last longer than oils, especially oils on canvas. They will not crack or yellow.

Can I mix and match Casein with other media?
You can use Casein directly with watercolor, gouache and acrylics. With oils, use Casein for underpainting or apply it after you've applied an intermediary varnish.

How can I paint impasto when it's not recommended for Casein?
Casein paints are in fact fine for a moderate impasto. To achieve a heavy impasto, it is recommended that you paint your impasto texture first, using thick gesso and a rough bristle brush. Then paint with Casein on top in the normal, liquid way.

If Casein is opaque, how can it be used for washes?
Casein is opaque, especially when white is added. However, when it's diluted with water, it can be applied in translucent layers, creating a gauze-like effect.

When Casein dries, the values sometimes seem slightly different from when they were wet. What can I do about that?
Mix the color you want and apply a swatch on the area you want to paint. Then use a hair dryer to dry the Casein quickly. If the color's okay, go ahead. If not, remix it and try it again until you're satisfied. And don't worry that you have swatches with the wrong color, because with Casein, it's as simple as painting over all the areas you've tested. After you've painted with Casein a while, you will learn which colors lighten and darken by instinct. And remember, sometimes happy accidents "wake up" a painting!

Sometimes when I use layers of Casein, the colors seem to look muddy. Why is this happening?
Applying too many layers of color or not allowing them to dry thoroughly may mute or muddy colors. Speed up the drying time with that handy hair dryer.

What is halftone black?
Even though Casein colors like titanium white and ivory black are opaque, halftone black is finely dispersed, allowing your underpainting to show through. When applied over another color, the color changes with incredible results. For instance, when you put halftone black over burnt sienna, you'll get a beautiful purple. Halftone black is also great for shading over flat areas of color.

I've heard that you should add white to Casein when using it as a wash. Is this true?
Adding a touch of white to your Casein colors will help you control your washes. Five percent white will make washes lighten gradually from opaque to transparent instead of changing too rapidly. Try it, you won't believe the difference!

Can I use Casein for Fresco painting?
For Fresco painting, Casein colors are thinned with water and applied to cement or lime walls, either wet or dry. The color should be of thin consistency.

Can Casein be used with resist-ink?
Some of the most exciting textural and tonal effects can be achieved using this technique. Basically, it involves nothing more than brushing waterproof black ink over a Casein painting. The greater the variety of surface textures, the more intriguing the results. Making sure the paint is completely dry, fill a soft brush with the ink and stroke it over the picture. It can be very black or diluted to different intensities. While it is drying, the ink will be absorbed into the areas with the thinnest coats of paint. The more thickly laid textures will repel it. When it has dried, run it under the faucet with cold water and allows the ink to wash off. It will leave a mottled half tone effect.

I've decided I don't like something in my painting. Can I change it?
That's the beauty of Casein. It's correctable! Rub or scrub the area with a damp cloth, paintbrush, or an eraser. If it's dry, with a mixture of ammonia and water (one part ammonia to nine parts water.)

What if I want to use a color that's not available in the Shiva line?
It's simple. Mix Shiva Casein Emulsion with powdered pigments: Spray some water on your palette and scoop out the pigment with a palette knife. Mix thoroughly into a paste and add a few drops of Shiva Casein Emulsion. Mix again, and you're ready to paint.

What kind of varnish should I use with Casein?
Varnish is a matter of preference. Shiva Casein Varnish or a gloss varnish will intensify the color. Using a matte acrylic varnish will preserve that ôauthentic Caseinö look.

What's the best way to apply varnish to Casein?
If you brush varnish over a painting with delicate glazes, some lifting may occur, especially if your brush is too course. If you've painted relatively thick, brushing on varnish will work if you're careful. However, the easiest way is to use spray varnish or Shiva Casein Varnish in a spray gun or an aerosol can. Start the spraying process before the nozzle is over the area to be varnished and apply it in a diagonal direction over the painting, spraying in light, quick trails. Let it dry and repeat the process until you have the effect you want. When spraying varnish, open a window and always wear a HEPA rated double filter air mask. When you're finished, leave your studio until the fumes have cleared out.

Does Casein Emulsion increase adhesion? Does it affect drying time?
Casein Emulsion does have an effect on Casein paints as it increases adhesion and slows down the drying time.

Are Casein paints soluble with alcohol?
No, not with alcohol. However, you can easily lift up mistakes by using ammonia. Generally, a 1:9 ammonia and water mixture will be what is needed.

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