Icelandic Sheep in Casein

Last week we helped with the sheep shearing duties at Dancing Lamb Farm. 
In between cleaning the fleeces, I paused to do a casein sketch of one of the sheep who was dozing in the clover.

I took a few closeups of the painting to address some of the questions that came up during last night's web show. One person asked whether you can draw with colored pencils on the surface of dry paint. 

Usually casein dries with a surface that doesn't take the colored pencil quite as well as watercolor or gouache does. Sometimes the pencil just skids over the surface. But this time it worked, and I used the black colored pencil to quickly note some detail in the horn, cheek, and eye. I was also able to use the fountain pen over the thin paint, as you can see from the image at the top of the post.

Note the thin, semi-transparent layers of blue, yellow, and green applied with a half inch flat brush in the upper left.

There were a couple of other questions last night about impastos and painting light accents. I set up the whole painting for these last light strokes.

I'm working here in a watercolor sketchbook with about 200 gram paper. Because the paper is quite flexible, heavy impastos in casein could crack off because thick passages are rather brittle, more like chalk than plastic. My impastos here are fairly low, still within the safe range for a watercolor paper support. 

If you like to go really crazy with impastos, you should work on a panel, or pre-texture the impastos with acrylic modeling paste, which has more emulsion strength and flexibility than casein. 

The handling of the paint here is very reminiscent of oil. It flows off the brush like oil, but it dries in minutes instead of hours. For the oil painter like me looking for a water-based sketching medium that travels well, this fits the bill pretty well.

Scroll down a couple of posts for links on where to get any of these supplies.   

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