The Big Break-Up

So, did I tell you that me and my acrylic paints had a fight? This was years ago and we haven’t been on speaking terms for awhile now. The tension had been mounting for a bit and I should have seen the break-up coming sooner. 

After painting landscapes and some figures with acrylic paints, I started doing mixed media where I did an under coat of acrylic paint and gesso with my figure charcoal drawings on top. The final coat was a spray of varnish to hold everything in place. But the obvious separation had begun and I was leaning more towards creating with charcoal.

The major disagreement I had with acrylic paint was that the colour applied to the canvas always dried darker than what I had used. I loved my paintings wet but not so much when they dried. In frustration, I decided to take a step back from painting. I may have even thrown a tube or two. 😉 (I hope I didn’t shock the neighbours. Thank God, the kids didn’t really notice too much, since they were so busy with hockey & dance. Ha!)

Looking back, I now realize if we had gone for counselling, we might have been able to save the relationship. Hind sight is 20/20 and I can now see the part I played in the break-up. I didn’t know enough about colour theory, so I did spend a year trying to figure that part out which would have been helpful back then. 

Over the years, I have done some abstract acrylic paintings but I have definitely stayed away from painting realism with acrylic paint. I was able to incorporate the colour theories I had studied but there is always something that bugs me about the paints. (Sorry, Acrylic!)

Thing is that I love to paint. It is a nice break from working on the computer all the time.

So, I did dabble with watercolours for a bit but watercolours have their own quirks that are hard to overcome. The main argument is that they are very unforgiving and is very hard to come back from mistakes. That makes the pressure very real to perform. However, letting watercolours flow on yupo paper can be a lot of fun and you can get some really neat textures with this technique.

Then one day, my art friend introduced me to a new kind of paint. It is called casein. Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, it’s ok, not many people have. It is an old world paint that has been forgotten in the modern day art stores. Think egg tempura but with milk instead of eggs.

I managed to buy some through Amazon & have given it ago. I think, I am in love, although it is still early in the relationship to completely commit. But it has seemed to solve both issues I’ve had with acrylic and watercolour paints. 

When the paint dries it has the same feel as oil paints but without the mess. It is water soluble and drain friendly. It also maintains the rich colours from wet to dry instead of acrylic’s plastic-y feel. Also, once applied and dried you can go back and re-work areas. As soon as you add water to dried paint, it can be lifted without damaging your surface. 

You can use it watered down like watercolours. But they do recommend an emulsion since the dry time is super short. Without the emulsion it is the shortest dry time of all the paints. I will see how long my paints last in the tube before they completely dry out and become unusable.

Another issue I have heard other artists have had with casein is the smell. For me, I actually quite enjoy the smell. I find it is a bit perfume-y but would agree it is kind of strong. If you don’t like the smell, I can see how that would affect your painting vibe.

Here is the 1st painting I did using casein. It has been a long time and feels good to get back to painting again.  

I haven’t had the chance to fix my paintings yet. They are a bit fragile without a fixative, since a drop of water can lift the paint. My friend who introduced me to casein recommended a cold wax application. I am not sure what that is so will have to ask her to show me one day soon. 

Once I figure that part out, I will let you know if it is a “match made in heaven”. In the meantime, I will be able to make prints of the paintings I have done which is super fun. 

For now, I am happy with this new relationship. It goes to show you, that not all paints are made for everyone. It takes a bit of exploration to find the right one for you. But once you find the right fit, hopefully, the relationship will last a lifetime.