What's Casein Paint?


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
What specifically is it and what's it's history?
How is it different?
What was it's advantages/disadvantages?
Why is it very rare to find now & does anyone still sell it?


form wikipedia
"Casein paint, derived from milk, is a fast-drying, water-soluble medium used by artists. It generally has a glue-like consistency, but can be thinned with water to the degree that fits a particular artist's style and desired result. It can be used on canvas panels, illustration boards, paper, wood and masonite. Because the dried paint film is inflexible and brittle, it should not be applied in heavy impastos on flexible supports such as canvas or paper. Casein paint is reworkable and can be used for underpainting. It generally dries to a matte finish.

Casein paint has been used since ancient Egyptian times as a form of tempera paint, and is still used today. Some of the qualities that artists value casein paint for is that unlike gouache, it dries to an even consistency making it ideal for murals. Also, visually it can resemble oil painting more than most other water based paints, and works well as an underpainting"

it seams to be used in paintings also i know that it was used in painting the celling of the Fox theatre in atlanta when it first opened in 1929

from what i can tell no one sells it but it can be made.


CB Mods
Premium Member
That's an interesting definition as Casein paint is actually derived from Casein glue. Casein or animal glue is the good old fashioned glue that you sent horses to the glue factory for.
All paints have three elements

Medium; water,oil,latex, etc.

Pigment; pretty standard across the board, Ancient Egyptians through the Renaisance Masters would grind minerals, semi-precious jewels, and at times gold and more precious jewels to create pigments. Usually they are a powder in thier natural states.

Binder; In oil based paints the oils dry out and get sticky which creates a binder, In latex paints the latex dries and the rubber is the binder, In water based paints the binder can be anything from Tempra paints that use egg whites as a binder < which is what the Michelangelo used to paint the Cisteen (sp?) chapel or in the case of Casein paints Animal glue.

Animal glue is literally really thick Jello to make it you use dry casein which comes from rendered animal parts, hooves, skin,viscera, which is then dried and crushed into a powder. This dry casein is mixed with water in a double boiler until it melts down like Jello. Animal glue is then mixed with water and pigment to acheive the proper colors

Advantages ? Hmm Very vivid colors incredible binder. I don't know where the Wikkipedia definition got the idea that it can't be used on canvas. Across the stree form my theatre is a Masonic hall with Drops that were painted in 1927 the colors are as vibrant as the day they were painted,and I've seen drops that have been folded over and over for years with no degradation or flaking. Now if you don't know what your'e doing it can be flaky and thick and in thick coats it it would crack off, which brings us to disadvantages.
Disadvantages, "pot-life" Casein can go bad rather quickly. When it does go bad, being an animal based material it stinks. Not just a little it stinks a lot. Getting the proper mix of casein water and pigment is an art. A very difficult art and if you don't get it rightIt will either flake off or break off.

Yes you can still get it. Casein glue is still used especially in the manufacture of violins and other musical instruments.
Dry scenic Pigments are harder to come by and I don't know where you might get them. Some of the pigments are also toxic, and thus dangerous to use.
How's that ?

Users who are viewing this thread