Casein Paint Art History Definition: Complete Explained

As we explore the Casein Paint Art History Definition, we come across various forms of painting and techniques used to create a piece of art. One of the lesser known but highly versatile forms of paint is Casein paint. This article will delve into the history, definition, and usage of casein paint.

Casein paint, also known as milk paint, is a water-based paint that uses Casein, a protein found in milk, as its main binder. The paint is made by mixing Casein with lime, pigment, and water. The result is a fast-drying paint that is easy to apply, has good adhesive properties and is resistant to fading and moisture.

The Origins of Casein Paint

Casein paint is water-soluble medium artist use, derived from casein, a phosphoprotein found in milk. The use of Casein in painting dates to prehistoric times when artists used milk (human milk) in their cave-painting mediums. Recipes for the benefit of adhesives made from Casein, or curd, date back to the 11th century, making Casein one of the oldest water-based paints. Refined, pure, powdered Casein, which can be dissolved with ammonia, has been used for easel and mural paintings since the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The introduction of Casein paint in its modern form is attributed to the American artist Leonard Bocour, who began producing it in the early 1930s.

Casein paint has a glue-like consistency but can be thinned with water to fit a particular artist’s style and desired result. In addition to its use in painting, Casein has been used for over eight centuries as a traditional adhesive and binder. It is used as a form of tempera paint in ancient Egyptian times and is used by commercial illustrators until the late 1960s when acrylic paint became more popular.

The History of Casein Paint

Casein paint, also known as Casein, is water-soluble medium artist’s use. It is derived from milk casein, which is a protein. The history of casein paint can be traced back to prehistoric times, as artists used it to create cave paintings. Archaeologists have discovered powdered ochre mixed with residue on a stone tool dating back to 49,000 years ago.

The use of Casein paint medium continued throughout art history definition, with artists using buttermilk in their painting mediums. Recipes for adhesives made from Casein, or curd, date back to the 11th century, with its primary function being its strength as an adhesive.

Refined, pure, powdered Casein, which can be dissolved with ammonia, has been used for easel and mural paintings since the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has a glue-like consistency but can be thinned with water to the degree that fits a particular artist’s style and desired result. Moreover, Casein has also been used as a binder and adhesive in manufacturing cellulose nitrate, the first plastic developed in the mid-19th century. Read about Best Mangaka Art Style now.

Gustav Klimt Famous Casein Painter in history

Gustav Klimt is an Austrian symbolist painter known for his sensual and erotic paintings, murals, and sketches of the female body. Klimt was also known to have worked with casein paint, a robust form of wall painting that is much more accommodating than fresco and just as enduring but has never become popular. In fact, in the Beethoven Frieze (also known as Nagging Grief), a large mural located at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, Klimt used casein paint, stucco, and gold leaf on mortar to create a complex mix of materials. The Secession Building in Vienna (1903-07) is another example of Klimt’s use of Casein paint on stucco, inlaid with various materials.

Although Klimt is known for his use of Casein paint, he also worked with other materials, such as gilding and oil on canvas. Some of his notable works include “Judith and the Head of Holofernes,” “Hope I and II,” and “Island in the Attersee.”

In recent news, climate activists spilled black oil on Klimt’s painting “Tod und Leben” at the Leopold Museum in Vienn. A Klimt painting was recently restored with the help of artificial intelligence.

Gustav Klimt Famous Casein Painter in art history definition

The Characteristics of Casein Paint

1. Correction and adjustment: Casein paint is simpler to correct than oils, and each application of paint dries so quickly; Casein is more practical than oils when making the fine back-and-forth adjustments of light and shadow while modeling the illusion of three-dimensional shapes.

2. Absorbency: Casein paint layers are absorbent.

3. Drying time: True Casein paint, like other water-based mediums, dries immediately, and once dry, it becomes a water-impermeable and exceptionally durable film. It dries to a velvety matte finish, and over time, it becomes resistant to moisture.

4. Shelf life: Unused actual casein paint has a concise shelf life and does not stay fresh, spoiling within days.

5. Versatility: Casein is a clean, water-soluble medium that requires no strong solvents. It is a highly versatile medium that can be applied anywhere, from impasto to thin watercolor washes. Caseins may be thinned with water and become insoluble with time and exposure.

How to Use Casein Paint

First, prepare the colors by mixing pigments with distilled water into a paste and then adding an equal amount of casein binder. Thin the paint with water to achieve the desired consistency and evaluate it by applying it to a piece of cardboard. If the pigment rubs off after an hour, you need more binder. Casein paint dries quickly to a velvety matte finish, and it becomes resistant to moisture over time. You can use Casein directly with watercolor, gouache, and acrylics or use it for oil underpainting. You can also use it with other paints, such as acrylics, in which acrylic plays the role of thin, transparent application, and Casein provides the ability to create thick, opaque passages.

One way to use Casein paint is to block out the primary forms in your paintings and then fill in the details with oils. It is an approach preferred by landscape and still-life painters. Use Casein for impasto painting, as it is acceptable for moderate impasto. If you make a mistake while using Casein paint, you can correct it with a damp cloth or, if the paint is dry, with a weak mixture of ammonia and water.

Casein Painting Techniques

These Techniques use throughout Art History Definition of working with casein paint:

1. Layering: Layering involves applying thin layers of paint on each other. This technique is great for creating depth and texture in your painting.

2. Glazing: Glazing involves applying a thin, translucent layer of paint over a base color. This technique creates subtle color shifts and adds depth to your painting.

3. Wet-on-wet: Wet-on-wet involves applying paint to a wet surface. This technique is great for blending colors and creating a soft, flowing effect.

4. Dry brush: Dry brush involves using a dry brush to apply paint to a dry surface. This technique is great for creating texture and adding details to your painting.

5. Stippling: Stippling involves using a stippling brush or the tip of a meeting to create a series of dots or minor marks. This technique is great for creating texture and adding detail to your painting.

6. Scumbling: Scumbling involves applying a dry brush over a layer of wet paint. This technique is excellent for creating a soft, diffused effect.

Casein Paint Recipe

The following is a comprehensive recipe about Casein Paint Art History Definition for making casein paint.


  • Casein protein powder
  • Water
  • Alkaline substances (such as borax, baking soda, or lime)
  • Pigments


  1. Dissolve the casein protein powder in water. The ratio of powder to water can vary, but a standard recipe is two parts powder to sixteen parts water, 2 1/2 ozThe Powder to 9 fl. oz. room temperature water.
  2. Mix an alkaline substance, such as borax, with hot water. A typical recipe is one tablespoon of borax to eight tablespoons of hot water. Other alkaline substances that can be used include baking soda and lime.
  3. Add the casein mixture to the alkaline substance mixture and stir until smooth.
  4. Heat the mixture in a double boiler on medium heat until it reaches about 180 ℉, stirring continuously. This heating process will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool before adding pigments.
  6. Mix in pigments to create the desired colors.

Note that the exact ratio of ingredients and specific instructions may vary depending on the recipe and desired outcome. It recommends experimenting with small batches to find the right combination for your needs.

Casein Paint vs Gouache

Casein paint formulates with a protein binder, giving it a glue-like consistency that can thin with water. It has a creamy texture and dries uniformly, making it an excellent choice for murals. It also has good color retention capacity and can visually resemble an oil painting. Casein paint loses its solubility with time and exposure and becomes water-resistant.

On the other hand, gouache has a more forgiving nature and can reactivate with water, making it a good option if you make changes or corrections to your painting. It can also create crisp hard lines, making it more suited to a tiling method of painting. However, achieving soft and opaque blends with gouache can be challenging.

Is Casein Paint Toxic?

Casein paint is that it is non-toxic and safe to use, making it a safer option for artists than other types of paint. Casein is used in adhesives such as Elmer’s Glue-All due to its non-toxic nature and economical use. However, if an artist is using dry pigments to create their paint, it is essential to wear a mask to avoid inhaling the particles and to avoid using dyes that are known to be hazardous.

It is worth noting that while paints labeled as non-toxic are safe for humans, they may not necessarily be safe for the environment. Additionally, certain inorganic pigments used in painting, such as white lead or flake white, can cause anemia, gastrointestinal problems, nerve damage, kidney damage, and reproductive system damage. Therefore, it is essential for artists to be mindful of the materials they are using and to prioritize safety.

Casein Paints for Walls.

Casein paint is a water-soluble medium made from milk’s protein component, and it is an excellent option for painting walls. It produces a velvety, matte finish and is known for its durability and resistance to moisture. Casein paint is used for mural paintings and frescoes, but it quickly became famous for its strength as an adhesive, making it an ideal choice for painting walls. Casein paint can be used on any rigid, non-oily surface, including Masonite, wood, plaster, heavy watercolor paper, paperboard, canvas, linen, and even stone.

Before applying Casein paint to walls, it recommends priming the surface with a lime-casein primer. The primer can be made by diluting a 4% lime-casein solution with nine parts of water and applying it evenly on the wall.

Casein paint dries quickly to a natural matte finish, making it ideal for reproduction. It is also an artist-quality paint that resembles the original colors used in fresco and hardboard painting during the Renaissance. While paint can be used on walls, it is usually considered a small-batch product for small projects, and casein paint is preferred for wall painting.

Casein Paint vs Acrylic

CriteriaCasein PaintAcrylic Paint
CompositionMade from milk proteinMade from synthetic polymer
Drying TimeQuick dryingFaster drying
OpacityOpaquerLess opaque
PermanenceGood permanenceExcellent permanence
Color RetentionResists yellowing over timeMay yellow over time
Water ResistanceResists water damageWater-resistant when dry
ApplicationSmooth applicationSmooth application
Clean UpClean up with soap and waterClean up with soap and water
CompatibilityCompatible with oil paintsNot compatible with oil paints
TextureThicker consistencyThinner consistency
GlossinessMatte or slightly glossyCan achieve high gloss finish
PriceMore expensive than acrylicMore affordable than casein

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