Thursday, November 15, 2018:


Klein 4Demo by Mary Nagel Klein – “Painting with Casein”

Klein 1Mary Nagel Klein began her demo by explaining that milk protein is the binder in casein paint, just as gum arabic is the binder in watercolor.

Casein is the oldest paint known, dating back 49,000 years. Although she has painted in watercolor and oils, she now prefers casein for its immediacy and safety.

She often bicycles to favorite locations, carrying her supplies in a backpack and finishing a painting in under two hours. Klein’s palette includes naples yellow, yellow ochre, venetian red, rose red, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and ivory black.

Before beginning her painting she applies 5 layers of Venetian red to ampersand clayboard as an underpainting. The challenge of casein is that it dries fast and dries light.

She begins the painting by blocking in large masses of color to define the shapes. Then she works on details paying special attention to edges. When the painting is near completion she uses a mirror, her “secret weapon,” which reverses the design and gives a different perspective which points out possible problems. Klein 2

When the painting is completely dry, Klein rubs the surface with a wool or cotton cloth which removes the protein film, producing a hard waterproof patina which does not require glass.

Klein has self-published a book, Casein Fine Art Painting (available on in which she outlines the seven steps she follows to express her vision in casein.

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