07 Apr

Casein (kay seen) commonly referred to as milk paint has a history as long as humankind. It is an ancient milk-based opaque paint that has been used by residents of prehistoric caves, Renaissance Old Masters, amazing contemporary artists like Nagel Klein, and so many others in between.  

Archaeology.com recently published an article describing how a bit of paint comprised of ochre and wild bovine milk was discovered on a tool made of stone in Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This is the same rock shelter where prehistoric man lived between 77,000 and 38,000 years ago. 

But wait! There’s more . . . 

You know the wall paintings in the sacred tombs of Egypt, such as the Dendaras Temple Complex? Yes, indeed! You guessed it. Casein. The colors in that artwork are as vivid today as when first applied to the walls and ceilings 2,000 years ago. 

As a visual artist, I find there are numerous advantages to using casein. It is not only vibrant and lasts forever, but it also – and most importantly – is made of water-soluble natural ingredients. In these days, when those of us who love Planet Earth are diligently working to restore her good health, it’s a relief to use simple, sustainable materials. 

On April 22, we’ll celebrate our 53rd Earth Day. I remember when it all began. I didn’t know about casein back then, but I’m so glad to have this green alternative now!

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