Sunday, October 25, 2020

New Book: Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller

Will casein become the next new “thing”?

As many of you know, I recently fell in love with painting in gouache.  Until then, I'd never been fond of water media.  Watercolor, especially, was my nemesis; for someone who has always painted in more opaque media like pastel and oil, watercolor required me to shift into reverse and drive backwards.  Gouache, on the other hand, let me put the pedal to the metal and accelerate for the wide open spaces.

Casein paint is similar to gouache in that it is water-based, opaque and dries to a matte finish.  However, whereas the binder for gouache is usually gum arabic, for casein paint it is casein, which is made from milk.  What this means for the artist is that, over time, casein becomes insoluble and cannot be re-wetted.  Gouache, on the other hand, remains soluble and can be lifted—or damaged—by water.  Casein becomes much more durable as it ages.

Here's what Stephen Quiller says about casein:

The original formula used by Ramon Shiva included 20% of casein from skim milk, lime, pigments, a little oil and chemicals.  This mix is what gives casein such a beautiful, velvety visual quality.  A pine oil is added to the mix, which gives it an incredibly clean smell.  It has a soft visual quality that is unlike any other medium.  I love to use casein to help create an airiness and earthiness in a landscape; the dryness and the aged quality of architecture and boats; and the raw earthy feel of adobe.  It is truly magnificent and unsurpassed when used in this way.

Quiller, who is known worldwide for his books and videos on water media and also as the inventor of the “Quiller Wheel,” a very useful color aid for painters, has published a new book:  Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller: Casein Secrets Revealed in the Ultimate Definitive Guide.  The author, who will be one of the artists featured in a book I am working on, shared his new one with me.

Quiller, who has been painting in casein for over 50 years, offers his vast knowledge of the medium and includes demonstrations, suggested exercises and many useful tips.  Lifting the volume into the realm of fine art coffee table books are scores of beautiful images, many of them his casein paintings from the last half-century.  (I have included some here.)  The paintings, which show the breadth of casein's capabilities, delighted and inspired me to get my own set of casein and give it a try.

The book presents casein in a logical, easy-to-understand fashion, starting off with the basics of the medium plus detailed sections on its color possibilities.  Continuing with materials and equipment for both plein air and studio painting, the book then launches into creating different moods with the medium and seques into a wonderful section on using it for painting snow; and finally, it addresses the flexibility of casein with other media, and how it can be used to great effect with acrylic, watercolor, charcoal or pastel.  A gallery of richly-colored paintings completes the book.

Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller is available on his website at and is $29.95/softcover or $34.95/hardcover.

Here are a few of Stephen Quiller's stunning casein paintings.

"Elongated Shadows"
24x34 casein / Stephen Quiller

"High Mountain Patterns, Late July"
17x11 casein / Stephen Quiller

"Canyon Up Miner's Creek"
36x36 casein / Stephen Quiller

"Early August, Wolf Creek Pass"
36x36 casein / Stephen Quiller

No comments: