Sunday, February 04, 2007

Olsen's Palette (work in progress, 5)


I've started applying egg tempera washes over the casein underpainting. First, however, I sized the casein work with a couple of layers of dilute egg yolk wash, unpigmented. Next, I laid down a loose glaze of raw sienna (a golden brown variety). I then modeled some of the middle values in darker but still transparent raw sienna and verdaccio giallo. Finally, I reinforced the lighter values with buff titanium (a light tan-hued white pigment.) I'll bring up the lights a little more strongly and start applying washes of grays, blues, and greens over the composition. I'll push toward more natural colors yet try to keep the treatment a little soft-edged, brushy, and transparent at this early stage.


Djembe said...

It was enlightening seeing the previous paintings develop, and this one's looking to be great too. Nice subject and composition. I can nearly smell the oil paint.

I'm curious, why do you use black casein for your under drawing?

I've seen others mention this, but am unsure why one would choose casein over india ink (or a dark tempera paint for that matter).

By the way, I abandoned my first tempera painting because I'd become disenchanted with my initial motif. But I've since ordered several panels from and plan to try again. Seeing a new painting started on your blog is both a reminder and inspiration to myself to get busy.

Thanks yet again for sharing your art and experience.

Dennis Harper said...

I've used India ink in the past for the underdrawing, but I've come to prefer casein for a couple of reasons. Chiefly, I seem to be able to control it better than thinned ink. Casein has a little more body than ink even when diluted to a thin, fluid consistency; that little bit of viscosity makes it easier for me to manipulate. Also, in my process, I go back and forth between black (or umber)and white, and I often pass a veil of Venetian red over everything while working up the underdrawing, so it's nice to keep the medium consistent.
A couple of times when I did a heavily rendered ink underdrawing, the shellac-based ink built up a slightly slick surface. So much so that I was afraid the egg tempera would have trouble adhering to it. Casein leaves a very matte surface that the egg has no problems sticking to. (At least, as far as I know.)
I know a couple of people who use tempera for the underpainting. That probably makes the most sense. But, rather than spend the time to temper black pigment to start the drawing, I squeeze out a blob of Shiva-brand tubed casein. I tried tubed tempera once for the underdrawing, but the paint dried very slowly. A wash of color across it the next day caused the paint to lift, and I had to re-do everything.
Thanks for your comments. I hope you have better results and are satisfied with your next go at it.

Djembe said...

Thanks for your explanation Dennis.

I've ordered some casein along with some other art supplies today :-)


Dennis Harper said...

One thing to guard against if you use casein for your underpainting is building up an impasto. Try to avoid it. A brushy texture in the casein can get in the way of your later egg tempera work, so try to keep it low and thin.