Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Summer!

Black-chinned hummingbird-male
Summer is here!
The garden is alive with activity and I am as busy as the honeybees and hummingbirds that are gathering nectar among my flowers and veggies. Because I plant early and have a long growing season I am already harvesting many things. Every day I go out and pick something fresh and healthy from my little garden patch. Lately, it's been pea pods, broccoli, zucchini, strawberries and raspberries.
View of my little garden
My garden is not terribly large, but I pack a lot into it and I have been blessed with abundant harvests. I usually have enough to can or freeze, eat fresh and even share with friends.
Antlers and succulents...YUM!!!
 My new pup, Balin, has been helping me in the garden, mostly by digging holes, destroying plants he deems are dangerous, chewing holes in the broccoli and cabbage leaves and helping himself to the raspberries. So when I'm not picking produce I'm chasing around a rambunctious puppy! 
Needless to say I have not had very much time for art. But in a quiet moment when Balin was asleep I grabbed my sketchbook and did a quick study of a rufous hummingbird using a new medium I'm trying out.
Female rufous hummingbird in casein

 The medium is called casein (pronounced kay-seen) and has actually been around for centuries. It is a milk based pigment that was used in cave paintings and frescoes. It is a water medium and similar to gouache in that it is opaque, but can be thinned down and used like traditional watercolor and after it dries becomes permanent like acrylic. It has a wonderful matte finish and a unique smell. 

I enjoyed my first little experiment and think that I could come to like this medium. In most examples I've seen the medium has been used in a loose and painterly manner in portraits and landscapes like many oil paintings are done. I didn't handle it quite that way, but did like the way it blended and that I could paint over the top once it was dry and not have my underlying paint lift and muddy things up. I hope that I will get a few more opportunities to try casein again throughout my busy summer!