Casein (kay'seen) is a quick-drying, aqueous medium using a milk-based binding agent, and is one of the most durable mediums known to man.
Casein is also the oldest known medium! Cave paintings have been discovered in Asia, and later, the medium was used by Byzantine, Roman and Renaissance artists including the Old Masters.
Because Casein has an exceptional integrity of color and always dries to a perfect matte finish, it is unexcelled for art reproduction. The velvety matte finish can also be buffed to a satin sheen or varnished to produce a resemblance to oils. Over time, Casein pigments become resistant to moisture and as history has proven, the medium has a durability and permanence which has easily stood the test of time.

Casein - a fascinating milk-based medium!

In 1933, Casein pigments in tubes were developed by Ramon Shiva who relied on the expertise of the artists who used them to help perfect his high-quality paints.
Today, Jack Richeson & Co., Inc. manufactures Shiva's Casein colors and is dedicated to bringing back the original quality and formulation of the pigments.

Known for their versatility and array of capabilities, Casein paints can be used to create a variety of effects from the rich opaques of oil to thin watercolor washes. Casein paints may be applied to almost any rigid, non-oily surface such as canvas panel, illustration board, heavy watercolor paper, plaster, metal, wood, masonite, or canvas, or linen mounted on masonite. And they can be reworked or layered repeatedly and be used for underpainting.

All of our Casein paints conform fully to all U.S. Federal Safety Standards.

However, when using all professional artists' colors, we do advise: 1) wearing non-latex disposable hand-gloves, 2) washing hands well with soap and warm water after use and 3) keeping small children away from the area.

Shiva paints are tested according to ASTM D-4236 standards.

Helpful Tips for Caseins
  • Choose a rigid, non-oily surface to work on
    Establish correct drawing and value patterns
    with a thin underpaying
  • Dilute Caseins with water to make washes
    and transparent glazes
  • Casein colors, especially reds, oranges, and
    yellows, tend to shift after drying
  • Lighten colors by adding more water or brighten them by adding powdered pigment
  • To correct an overly dark area, cover it with a more opaque layer of a lighter color
  • When working on a gessoed panel, correct any errors with an eraser or a 1:9 ammonia and water mixture

    Casein Information:

    Casein Paint Sets

    Caseins are quick, making them unexcelled for beginning artists to use. Casein paint sets can be used on most surfaces making them ideal for craft projects and alternative paint mediums such as wood. Since Casein paintings can be varnished they are ideal for use for art projects that will be subject to the elements

    Casein Colors

    Casein is a quick-drying, paint made by using a milk-based binding agent. Casein color pigments are probably the oldest paint medium known to man, used by Byzantine, Roman and Renaissance artists including the Old Masters.

    Casein colors are known for being versatile, able to be used for a variety of effects from opaques of oil to thin watercolors. Casein has exceptional color that dries to a matte finish that allows pigments to become resistant to moisture and is more durable.

    Casein Paints

    Casein paint is an ancient medium that is versatile and quick. There are many applications to this durable medium and you can learn about casein paints, casein paint tips and casein paints applications on

    Casein paints are especially useful to the do it yourself decorator or furniture refinisher as it is moisture resistant and bright and colorful. Perhaps casein paint is the material you have been looking for.

    "Casein is a magical, invigorating natural medium that is made with the same care I put into my paintings. With casein, there's great brushability and versatility, and I can use it for everything from razor sharp detail to laying down a diaphanous wash to suggest hills in the distance. To me, casein is every hit as relevant and exciting as it was centuries ago."
    John Molnar, Known for his finely detailed landscapes which often suggest the passage of time, John Molnar has carved out a name for himself using the somewhat forgotten medium of casein...
    Much of Molnar's work explores the impact of modern forces on our landscapes and depicts a countryside and way of life that is quickly disappearing in North America. Often taking several months to complete his larger works, the John seems to invite the viewer to step into his paintings and feel the grass, the trees, the water, or even the weathered surface of an old building.

    At his recent solo show, Molnar says his clients were particularly drawn to his works in casein and thinks "the special qualities of casein are what make me stand out from the crowd." Based in Toronto, Molnar had won many awards in both the U.S. and Canada, and is represented by Ciparis Lennox Gallery and Rebecca Gallery in Toronto and Linda Lando Fine Art in Vancouver.


    "Casein is alive and well and it is a beautiful medium. It is versatile. It can be thick and textured like oil paint 01 thin and transparent like watercolor. It can be burnished to a soft slieeti or glared for a high gloss. It responds to your needs as an artist. The versatility of casein is amazing."
    Robert Tanenbaum


    "I've used Caseins for over 30 years because I love the unique velvety opaque and translucent visual qualities it offers. On many of my paintings I will work a luminous transparent acrylic underlayer and build the casein opaque and translucent layers over 1 the acrylic. The combination of visual qualities is absolutely beautiful!" Stephen Quiller

    "You could also give caseins a try. They're a milk based paint that dries to a matt finish, but can be buffed to a shine with a soft cloth. Casein varnish can also be coated over a finished painting to give it extra gloss.

    "Caseins can be used with water or a casein thinning medium to use them like watercolors. They work very similar to acrylics, but they remain somewhat reworkable until you fix them, whereas dried acrylics are completely set and cannot be reworked.

    "I enjoy caseins for their ability to mimic some of the best features of oils, acrylics and watercolors, depending on how you use them, with the unique ability to have a nice matte finish. They're also relatively affordable (about the same price as acrylics).

    "Currently, I am only aware of one company that makes casein paints... Shiva. The paints are high quality and can be used on a wide-variety of surfaces. They're available online...

    "At this point, I've never met another fantasy artist who uses caseins, which really surprises me. They're really worth giving a try!"

    ~ A.M.A


    Q. How does Casein differ from other media? What are its advantages?

    A. Casein differs from other media, yet it shares many of the same characteristics, which make it a very versatile medium that lends itself to many techniques.

    Casein has the wash capabilities of watercolor, the smooth opacity of tempera and gouache, and the richer textures of oils and acrylics. It always dries quickly to a velvety, matte finish and over time, it becomes resistant to moisture.

    Unlike oils, Casein is a clean, water-soluble medium requiring no strong solvents. And because it dries quickly, it's possible to lay en a glaze and move onto the next stage within a few hours instead of waiting for clays, or even months, for oil glazes over oil to dry.

    Acrylics can become gummy and resinous unless you buy retarders and mediums. It can also gum up your brushes, making fine detail hard to achieve. Brushes dipped in Casein keep their finesse, producing clear, crisp lines.
    As far as watercolor goes, the main advantage of Casein is that it's easily correctable. It can be removed with a cloth, brush or eraser, or if it's already dry, with a cloth dipped in ammonia and water (one part ammonia to nine parts water.)

    Q. What surfaces may be used with Casein?

    A. Casein may be applied to any rigid non-oily surface such as canvas panel, illustration board, heavy watercolor paper, sheetrock, metal, wood panels, masonite, or canvas, or linen mounted on masonite.

    Q. Can I paint with Casein on stretched canvas?

    A. Yes, if you paint really thin, but frankly, that's better left to the experts because Casein can crack if it's applied too thickly on stretched canvas. Instead, mount canvas or linen on masonite and prime the canvas with PVA, glue or acrylic gesso. Then, go to town and paint as thick or thin as you please!

    Q. What kind of watercolor paper is recommended for Casein?

    A. Heavy rigid paper, 300 Ibs. and up.

    Q. What should 1 use for a palette?

    A. Use a glass, porcelain or an enameled surface. An enameled butcher's meat tray, or even a porcelain lasagna dish works great! A plastic palette can be used, but the paint will stain the surface.

    Q. How do I heep Casein from drying out on my palette?

    A. If you're not accustomed to the fast drying time of Casein, you might find yourself wasting paint, and who needs that? If you find that it's drying out, add a few drops of water or use a spray bottle. Tightly cover the unused Casein with plastic wrap overnight and it will still be usable in the morning.

    Q. What kind of water should I use with Casein?

    A. Some people recommend distilled water, but ordinary tap water seems to work fine.

    Q. What grounds can I paint on?

    A. Rabbit skin glue, PVA, glue size and acrylic gesso. Just make sure there's no oil on the grounds.

    Q. What kind of brushes should I use with Casein? How should I clean them?

    A. You can use almost any kind of brush depending on the effect you want to create everything from stiff white brushes to soft hair watercolor brushes, oil brushes, Chinese brushes and fine points for tempera style. Or, if you really want to get crazy, use all of them together.

    Because it dries quickly, Casein can be
    hard on brushes, so make sure you clean
    them thoroughly with gentle soap and
    water or a commercial cleaner when your
    painting day is over.

    Q. What kind of varnish should I use with Casein?

    A. Varnish is a matter of preference. Shiva Casein Varnish or a gloss varnish will intensify the color. Using a matte acrylic varnish will preserve that "authentic Casein" look.

    Q. What's the best way to apply varnish to Casein?

    A. If you brush varnish over a painting with delicate glazes, some lifting may occur, especially if your brush is too course.

    If you've painted relatively thick, brushing on varnish will work if you're careful. However, the easiest way is to use spray varnish or Shiva Casein Varnish in a spray gun or an aerosol can.

    Start the spraying process before the nozzle is over the area to be varnished and apply it in a diagonal direction over the painting, spraying in light, quick trails. Let it dry and repeat the process until you have the effect you want. When spraying varnish, open a window and always wear a HEPA rated double filter air mask. When you've finished, leave your studio until the fumes clear out.

    Q. Are Caseins archival?

    A. Yes, properly done and with a protective varnish, Caseins can last longer than oils, especially oils on canvas. They will not crack or yellow.

    Q. How can I paint impasto when it's not recommended for Casein?

    A. Create your impasto texture first, using thick gesso and a rough bristle brush. Then paint with Casein on top in the normal liquid way.

    Q. Can I mix and match Casein with other media?

    A. You can use Casein directly with watercolor, gouache and acrylics. With oils, use Casein after you've applied an intermediary varnish.

    Q. When Casein dries, the values sometimes seem slightly different than when they were wet. What can I do about it?

    A. Mix the color you want and apply a swatch on the area you want to paint. Then use a hair dryer (which is great tor moving along quickly) to dry the Casein. It the color's okay, go ahead. It not, re-mix it and try it again until you're satisfied. And don't worry if you have swatches with the wrong color, because with Casein, it's as simple as painting over all the areas you've tested.
    After you've painted with Casein for a while, you'll learn which colors lighten and darken by instinct. Remember, happy accidents sometimes "wake up" paintings.

    Q. I've decided I don't like something in my painting. Can I change it?

    A. That's the beauty of Casein. It's correctable! Rub or scrub the area with a damp cloth, paintbrush, or an eraser. If it's dry, with a mixture of ammonia and water (one part ammonia to nine parts water.)

    Q. Sometimes when I use layers of Casein, the colors seem to look muddy. What can I do about it?

    A. Applying too many layers of color or not allowing them to dry thoroughly may mute or muddy colors. Speed up the drying time with that handy hair dryer.

    Q. What if one want to use a color that's not available in the Shiva line?

    A. It's simple. Mix Shiva Casein Emulsion with powdered pigments.
    Spray some water on your palette and scoop out the pigment with a palette knife. Mix thoroughly into a paste and add a few drops of Shiva Casein Emulsion. Mix again, and you're ready to paint.

    Q. If Casein is opaque, how can it be used for washes?

    A. Casein is opaque, especially when white is added. However, when it's diluted with water, it can be applied in translucent layers, creating a gauze-like effect.

    Q. What is half-tone black?

    A. Even though Casein colors like titanium white and ivory black are opaque, half-tone black is finely dispersed, allowing your underpainting to show through. When applied over another color, the color changes with incredible results. For instance, when you put half-tone black over burnt sienna, you'll get a beautiful purple. And if that isn't enough, half-tone black is also great for shading over flat areas of color.

    Q. Can I use Casein for painting a mural?

    A. Of course, but only if you're painting an inside mural. For outside murals, you'll have to use specialty paints. Although Casein becomes resistant to water over time, the elements would take their toll.

    Q. Can I use Casein for painting furniture or walls?

    A. Sure. For furniture, clean the wood and size with PVA glue or gesso and paint away. For walls, prime with gesso or better yet, use Zinzer Bullseye Primer Sealer.

    Q. Why does the color chart show a 95% color + 5% white wash?

    A. Adding a touch of white to your Casein colors will help you control your washes. Five percent white will make washes lighten gradually from opaque to transparent instead of changing too rapidly. Try it, you won't believe the difference.

    Casein Colors
    What are casein colors?
    Casein is probably the oldest paint known to man. This paint is made using a milk based binding agent and it dries quickly. Casein is known for being very versatile and it dries to a matte finish. Caseins are very resistant to moisture and are very durable.

    Casein Paint Sets
    When should I use casein paint sets?
    Caseins can be used on most any surface. Caseins dry fast and they can be varnished. This makes them ideal for most any craft project, especially ones that will be exposed to the elements.
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