Archive for March, 2016


New Drawing Started: Portrait of Alice

March 31, 2016

I’ve started a new ink drawing. This is my friend, Alice.


I originally thought I might do it in charcoal, but while sketching it out in pen, I decided to just keep going in ink. It’s on 17 x 14″ inch Bristol paper, and I’m using a Uniball Signo pen.



Casein Made from Kalona Brand Milk

March 28, 2016

Here’s a follow up to my previous post, with me now making a batch of casein glue from the Kalona brand milk I bought. It looks like it will work just fine.

As a reminder, this milk is different than the sort normally sold at a grocery store here in the US. It’s non-homogenized, low heat pasteurized, and about the closest type to raw milk you can buy. Here’s how I made the casein glue from it:
First I poured 8 ounces of the milk at room temperature into a small pot, and heat it to about 150 degrees, making sure it doesn’t get over 190. I stir in two tablespoons of white vinegar. In a few seconds it congeals into a ball of casein.


I crumble the casein into a fine mesh strainer, and wash it under the tap for a few seconds until the water is clear to remove all the whey and any byproducts that may be in the milk.


Next, I dilute a 1/2 teaspoon of borax in 2 tablespoons of distilled water. This alkali will change the casein into a glue. I put the casein in a small jar, and stir in the borax liquid.


I stir the contents every 20 minutes or so, and after about four hours it turns into a thick gel. It’s still a little lumpy at this point, so I would want to let it sit for a few more hours before using it for anything. I added a drop of thymol as a preservative.


So, this brand of milk works well as a source for making casein glue as a binder for paint or gesso. The biggest drawback is that it’s pricey. It’s twice as expensive as the last jug of raw milk I bought, and three times the price of regular commercial milk. It would be better if I could get it in a smaller size, since this is way more milk than I need. Unfortunately, it’s only available in 1/2 gallon. I can also use it for food, of course. It tastes okay, a little more buttery than regular milk. I could make cheese from it, but would want to use something other than vinegar, perhaps lime juice.

Well, the lime juice worked. I substituted it for the vinegar, using half a lemon, and the casein separated from the whey easily. It took a few extra seconds, and more stirring, but the results were the same. I’m not certain, but the casein felt not quite as firm this time, however. I saved the whey and lime juice liquid, and added it to my pasta sauce for tonight’s dinner. I mixed some oregano into the casein (a.k.a. cheese) and crumbled it on top of the spaghetti. Tasted good.


Testing Kalona Brand Milk for Making Casein

March 26, 2016


I was recently introduced to a person who makes her own cheese, and in out conversation I mentioned that I like to use raw milk from a local dairy farm to extract my own casein to make a paint medium. She suggested a particular commercial brand of milk I could try that she uses for her cheese process. It was called “Grassmilk” from Organic Valley, and was carried by a local natural foods store where I live. I went by there this morning, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the fat-free version that I needed. However, there was another brand from Kalona that had all the same features.

The one small drawback to using this for making casein is they are required by law to add palm oil for the vitamin A. Raw milk suppliers don’t have to do that. The amount added is very small, however, and I think I can safely wash out most of it in the processing. They don’t add soy oil for vitamin E that other commercial brands do, and a bonus is that it is non-homogenized (“cream-top”) and vat pasteurized at low temperatures. Non-homogenized is important since it makes the casein easier to extract, and VAT pasteurized makes the casein firmer than the typical ultra-pasteurized process of most commercial brands. The Kalona is more expensive than the raw milk I was buying, but the store is closer and easier to get to. If you’d like to make your own casein, but don’t live close to a dairy farm that sells fresh cow’s milk, these brands may be a good alternatives for you.

Soon I’ll make up a batch of casein from this, and see how it works out.


Two Sketches: Monument to the Immigrants

March 25, 2016


These two were drawn on location in New Orleans a couple years ago. It’s a statue at Woldenberg Park by the water, made by Franco Alessandrini. I understand that he had recently done some restoration work on it, so I’m glad I stopped by when I did. The subject matter is coincidentally appropriate right now in our turbulent times.



New Sketch: Roger on Guitar

March 18, 2016


I met a friend at a bar in Austin a couple days ago. The City’s been taken over by the SXSW Music Festival this week, so I’d normally steer clear of the crowds, but the bar was unexpectedly small and intimate. I caught a quick sketch of this fellow playing his music, and then finished the shading this morning. Didn’t quite get his last name, though. It sounded sort of Polish, and he had a thick accent. Folk music. Very good.


Admiring the art of Mortimer Wilson, Jr.

March 11, 2016


Several years ago I happened to pick up an old copy of the Saturday Evening Post magazine, and was floored by the artwork of an artist I had never heard of, Mortimer Wilson, Jr.


Wilson struggled early in his career as a fine artist and illustrator until getting work for the Post in the late 1930’s, following a meeting with Norman Rockwell who recommended him. He soon rose to a level of being among the highest paid illustrators with work appearing in other magazines like Cosmopolitan. Problems with his eyesight caused an early retirement to Arizona. As his sight improved he returned to a career as a gallery artist, painting Western themes and still lifes. He passed away in 1996.


These scans show some of his work for the Post when he was at the peak of his abilities. The style is reminiscent of other great illustrators such as Dean Cornwell and Andrew Loomis.


He had a marvelous control of values and form, plus an excellent sense of staging his actors in the scene. It’s a shame he’s not as well known as a few other of his contemporaries, but that was often the fate of many commercial artists of his time.


His illustration art shows up in auctions rarely, but you can see some of his latter work at the Tubac Center of the Arts in Arizona, or the International Museum of Art in El Paso, TX.


Painting Final: Channel Surfing

March 6, 2016


I added a little more modeling to her front forearm, and made a few other small tweaks, so I’m going to call this one finished. (9 x 12 ” oil on drafting film)



The oil medium I used for this was a mixture of some oil (Winsor & Newton Refined Linseed) with a casein medium of my own making. Although the medium is quite fluid, I wouldn’t describe it as thin, since there’s no solvent used other than the water in the casein. This mixture usually dries fast, but on this drafting film surface it takes an extra day or two. The only brushes used were a #3 Round and #0 Round.