coupla ghosts

It's rare, today, to find paintings done using casein. To help answer the public's questions regarding this medium, I wrote a little piece to help provide some basic information:
A Little Bit about Casein Paint
This little painting has been created with casein paint – one of the oldest kinds of paint known to mankind.  Art historians date the first casein paintings to the time of the ancient Egyptians.  Casein painting uses modified milk protein to bind the pigment (colors) onto a surface whereas oil painting typically uses linseed oil and acrylic painting an acrylic binder and, in a super-magnified sense, mosaics uses mortar as the binder and mosaic tiles as pigment.  The advantages of using casein as a binder are many.  It’s wonderfully archival, extremely versatile to create with and incredibly beautiful to behold. Before acrylic painting became popular in the second half of the 20th century, many artists painted in casein.  Andy Warhol’s Popeye (1960) and Dick Tracy (1960) were done in casein and Native American artist, Oscar Howe painted with it extensively. As you can see, casein painting is in good company and - with reasonable care (keep it dry and if needed, dust with a dry cloth) - your new little painting will last for centuries.
The best ways to learn about a medium, however, are to either paint with it or observe as many pieces of work created with it as you can.  Here are two more caseins of mine to help you with the latter:
Tiny Kleenex Ghost #5; casein on mounted paper; 7" x 5"

Long Ago; casein on mounted paper; 13" x 8"



around transparancy

With a chip in its lip, this little pitcher is still one of my favorite models.  I've painted it in oils in a large color field and titled the painting: "Opacity."  Now, four years later and painted in casein, it becomes: "Little White Jug Suspended."

Little White Jug Suspended; casein on mounted paper; 13" x 8"


up coming

Grand Opening of the Pioneer Art Gallery
Pioneer Endicott Building - Skyway Level - Suite 206
141 E 4th Street, Saint Paul, MN  55010
October 4th - 6th
Friday 6 - 10pm, Saturday 12 - 8 pm, Sunday 12 - 5 pm
Original Fine Art
Large Bright, Energy-Uplifting Abstracts (acrylic)
by Diane "Dyne" Simon
Serene Minnesota Landscapes (oil)
by Tom McGregor
Vibrant, Smart, Classic Prints (intaglio)
by Travis Erickson
Emotive, Concise, Small Paintings (casein)
by Mary Nagel Klein
American Craft
Funky, Whimsical Jewelry (wire and gemstone)
by Joy Benn
For those of you in the area, I hope you get a chance to attend this event.  Joy Benn, the gallery's proprietor, is a lovely person and I feel very honored to be included among these very talented artists.
For those of you reading this who are far from Minnesota, USA, please do check out the links above.  And if you find that you are interested in purchasing any of my little casein paintings but cannot attend the exhibit, please contact the Pioneer Art Gallery directly at: joy@pioneerartgallery.com or 612-875-3613.


milk & eggs

Below please find my latest paintings - all casein on mounted watercolor paper.

The irony wasn't planned, but as it turns out, these pieces are, among other things,
depictions of eggs
using pigments bound with milk
on paper made of cotton.

 I dearly wish I could upload the smells for you along with these images - a lovely and nostalgic aroma of essence of finger paint, Elmer's glue and wet paper.

Egg by an Orange Window; 7" x 5"

Egg in Milk; 7" x 5"


Egg in a Celadon Cup; casein on mounted paper; 13" x 8"


life drawing

Life Drawing sounded like a nice class when I was 20.  Besides, it was required for my course of study.  With my newsprint, charcoal and kneaded eraser newly purchased from the art supply store I showed up on the first day.  It was then that it happened: at the beginning of class one of the students (at least I had assumed up to this point he was a student,) took off all of his clothes and struck a pose on a platform in front of the rest of us.  My panic, which thankfully was discernible only by me, suddenly dissipated with the task at hand - quickly, and intuitively capture what I saw before me as truthfully as I could with burnt vine and recycled newspaper. I was hooked.

last night's co-op efforts - 25 minutes

last night's co-op efforts - 5 minutes each


pie apple

When I was younger I thought I was Dutch - because my parents were grandchildren of Dutch immigrants - and they told me so.   But after visiting the Netherlands, 14 years ago, I realized how American I am (born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin USA.)  I loved my time in Holland and still think of myself as Dutch-American.  Nonetheless, my American-ness runs deep - longing for the rolling hills of Wisconsin - especially during apple season.

American Pie; watercolor on paper; 16" x 11.5"


little spheres

A green apple hangs from my desk lamp now.  I love how the light plays with its somewhat spherical shape - especially with its polished-glossy surface. 

Apple with Little Green Spheres; watercolor on paper; 22" x 17"


green apple

A little drawing for you today.  Thinking about a larger-green-apple watercolor - and the recent visit that's now ended.  Youngest son and his girlfriend were in town from L.A.  We all highly recommend Big Stone Mini Golf in nearby Minnetrista.  You can read about it here in a 2012 NYTimes article.

Green Apple; graphite and conte on paper; 8.5 x 5.5 inches


well enough

Below is the finished painting from the previous post's step-by-step.  I thought it was finished when I posted it yesterday.  But, like whack-a-moles, areas and issues kept popping up and whenever one settled down another arose.  It might be interesting to compare the two finished pieces and ponder, once again, what the word "finished" means.  And then again, it might be best to leave well enough alone.

Apples, Bananas and Flowering Onions; oil on linen; 7" x 11"


time lapse

For something different today, I thought I'd show you a bit of my painting process.  These were all taken this morning - within the span of about 4 hours (not all spent painting - had breakfast, watched the news, checked my computer, etc. )  The last image (the finished painting) will be day 5 for #paintseptember - to be tweeted tomorrow.



onion bouquet

Below are two little studies (oils on linen; 8" x 13") of a drinking glass with water and five small onion flowers.  They're part of #paintseptember over on Twitter.  You can read more about #paintseptember here.

These little onions grow in a row by my front walkway - right in front of a tiny hedge of boxwood.  This time of year their flowers are covered with bees.  It was at great risk that I cut this meager bouquet :)

Incidentally, this arrangement was set up on my kitchen counter and my field easel stood in the middle of my kitchen.  I love how the under-cabinet lights play - and the counter height is a nice one too.

 I painted in the early (very early) hours of the morning - before the kitchen got busy.

#paintseptember day 3

#paintseptember day 4


laid plans

Over on Twitter I'm participating in #PaintSeptember - a loosely organized but very supportive group of artists who have committed to sharing images of their latest paintings with each other throughout the coming month. Anyone else who searches on Twitter, with #paintseptember as their keyword, can see the paintings too.

I'll be posting my #paintseptember images here in addition to Twitter but please do check out the other artists there - you'll find some amazing talent.

I've decided to use this month to get more comfortable with the new whites I've switched to.  (You can read more about my adventures with white oil paint here.)  In the painting below, there's an equal mixture of foundation white and flake white hue.  It was very nice to work with and now I'm hoping it will dry at a nice pace too.  Having used only flake white hue in my recent little self portrait, the painting is still very wet - and that was 2 weeks ago.

Day 2 of #PaintSeptember; oil on unstretched linen; 12" x 8"


a round

Here's another watercolor (first "Constructs Under an Umbrella" here) with a little paper umbrella and various visual elements to accompany it:

Constructs Under an Umbrella #2; watercolor on paper; 20" x 16"