Supports

Pencil and charcoal drawings are on a variety of papers including, but not limited to Kahdi, Fabriano, and Arches Aquarelle.

Most of my oils and acrylics are on canvas – I usually stretch my own canvases, though some older works and smaller pieces are on pre-stretched canvases.

The disks are either cut from MDF (14″ diameter, 35.56 cm) or plywood (several sizes).

Before priming these, I attach a glue a wooden brace which will support screws for D-rings or other hanging systems, whil lifting the work away from the wall.

Grounds

For oils on canvas I size with RSG, then use an oil primer, or, if that is in short supply, I use a half oil ground (egg, linseed oil, and titanium white or whiting).

For oils on board I’ve used casein size followed by a casein ground and, sometimes, an oil primer.

For acrylics on canvas, I use an acrylic gesso.
Some charcoal and pencil drawings are on a mix of size and pigment.

Paint

Oil

While I am not tied to any particular maker, I tend to use Michael Harding paints, or for the ‘Mars’ colours I have turned to Blockx.  Both makers deliver paint with high pigment load, delivering intense colour on the canvas.

For thinning and extending the paint, I use lindeed oil and turpentine from a variety of suppliers including Pip Seymour and Kremer. I also have some impasto medium from Pip Seymour.  I have in the past used poppy oil, though the slow speed of drying can be a problem.

Dammar varnish I make myself.  The varnish is a traditional additive to paint that helps make glazes.

Oil sticks: I use R & F pigment sticks which help me add drama and movement to my work.  The pigment sticks are a mix of pigment, linseed oil and wax (usually beeswax).  Bees wax is a traditional additive that increases the body of the paint and alters the sheen.

Acrylics

Most of the acrylics I use are by Golden. They are another brand started by an artist making his own paint, and have a high pigment load giving intense colour.

Casein

Who has used it?

Casein has been used as a form of tempera since ancient Egyptian times, and was used by illustrators until the emergence of acrylic paint.  The best known artist that I’ve come across was Andy Warhol, who used in Dick Tracy and Popeye (both 1960).

Advantages of casein

  • It is a water based paint.
  • Visually, casein can resemble oil more than most other water based paints.
  • It tends to dries to an even consistency.
  • Over time, it becomes resistant to water, so is less liable to re-activation once dry than (say) gouache.
  • Casein works well as an underpainting.

What is it?

Casein is a protein found in milk.  I began using casein when I started a project in collaboration with a food scientist (Dr C).

As a binder, casein has the advantage that it can mixed with water and dries quickly – very quickly when compared with oil paint. The protein forms a strong glue, potentially very strong; when first making the Mosquito fighter-bomber aircraft, “de Havilland constructed … [the wings] out of shaped pieces of wood and plywood cemented together with Casein glue.” (Source: History of the de Havilland Mosquito, RAAF Museum, Point Cook)

Casein can be made by separating the milk into curds and whey using an acid (use skimmed milk and add white vinegar).  Remove the clear whey and dry the milk curd.  The curd may then be made fluid by neutralising with an alkali.  See Wikipedia to learn more.

A quicker, easier, and safer approach is to use Sodium Caseinate. Sodium Caseinate comes as a white, or yellow white powder whose main use is as a food additive.  The powder can be dissolved in water to form a colloidal suspension*.  Dissolving the powder takes some hours (over-night), and is helped if the mixture is stirred at the same time.

*A suspension consists of larger particles than colloids, and so unlike colloids, suspension sediment. Colloidal suspension is a term that combines the two whilst remaining easier to understand in lay terms than just colloid.

Charcoal

Not paint, but one of my favourite drawing tools is stick charcoal.

I use whatever brand of charcoal that I can find, though I prefer sticks to charcoal pencils.

Notes:

Making art is an evolving process, and some changes to my techniques and processes will emerge over time.