Painting with gold leaf | Beverly Gurganus Fine Art
I painted with metal leaf, and I liked it! I think you will too because gold leaf adds a touch of elegance to paintings that is not only beautiful, but eye catching.
A Mother's Crown #2 10x8 oil on canvas
I love painting my Princess, Prince, and Crown paintings, but I was wanting to push the paintings further. Isn't that what us creatives do? I strive to always push myself towards growth by experimenting with new ideas as well as keep myself from getting bored with the same processes. So when I saw that you can use metal leaf in your paintings, I knew I had to try it.
But First, What is Gold Leaf?
metal leaf comes in gold, silver, copper, rose gold etc..., and it is thin delicate sheets that can be carefully put onto various surfaces with an adhesive and brush. You can also purchase it in the form of flakes.
What materials do you need for leafing?
Besides the surface (my case stretched canvas), the above photo shows all the materials I used to apply the leaf to my painting.
1. Metal leaf (I used this more budget friendly leaf vs actual gold leaf since this was my first time experimenting. The gold is still beautiful even though it isn't the real thing.)
2. Adhesive (if you don't want to risk using alternative adhesives then use the one reccommended by the maker of the metal leaf, but you can always research other options of acid free fine art adhesives)
3. gilding brush-size 2 (This is the size I used, but in this case size doesn't matter. Pick the size you feel works best for the job.)
4. Foam brush (any cheap one from the dollar store or craft store will work.)
5. Sealant (you can purchase the sealant made by the same company as the adhesive and metal leaf. I didn't purchase it, but instead I tried using a clear matte gesso that I have used in the past when painting over paper collage. I can not guarantee the gesso will prevent the leaf from tarnishing.)
I had an unfinished painting sitting around since this past December, and I thought it would be the perfect piece to experiment on. You may want to experiment on something that you wouldn't be upset if it doesn't turn out.
Using an old smaller paint brush, apply the adhesive only in the areas where you want the leafing to stick. Let the adhesive cure until slightly tacky 15-30 min or follow the directions on the adhesive bottle.
Lay the sheet of leaf over the areas where you applied the adhesive. Use foam brush to press down and smooth the sheet of gold. Now here is the fun part...use the gilding brush to brush away the access gold (I saved all the bits in a zip locked bag for another project).
Add sealant (or in my case clear matte gesso) before painting. I paint with oil paint so I made sure to use a product that works with oil based paints.
I was happy to see that indeed the leafing was not altered in any way by the gesso meaning, it still has its metallic shine. I began to add paint to bring out the details of the crown. This was the tricky part for me because I had to minimize how much paint I put on the crown as to not paint over too much of the gold leaf or else what would be the point of the leaf if I just covered most of it? I basically just added shadows and highlights and allowed the gold to serve as my mid tones.
A King Is Born 8X10 mixed media
I can't express enough how happy I am with the outcome of using the gold leaf, and with practice, the results will only get better... (hopefully). Once the oil paint is completely dry, I will seal the painting again with a sealant specifically for oil paints.
What do you think about this added element to my paintings? Have you ever used gold leaf before? What did you like or what did you not like? If you have never used gold leaf, do you think you would want to give it a go? Let's chat about it in the comments!
Did you know that I accept commissions? I will love to help create a special piece of art you will be sure to love for years to come. Contact me and lets chat.