Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gold Leaf Demo

I thought I would take all the mystery out of the gold leaf here with a few photos of the first stages of a small painting. The material I use is actually a metal alloy that looks just like gold leaf, but is a bit easier to apply. I have used 24k gold leaf and found it more tricky and although more authentic not tremendously more gold to my eye. At least for just a flat application. 

My paintings on board always start with a reddish color gesso which just happens to perfectly mimick the red clay bole traditionally used with real gold leaf. In places where the thin sheets may reveal the color underneath it is the same color one would see in the old masters paintings using gold leaf.

So here is a quick pencil sketch. (yes sorry hard to see) This was just a top of my head character that I didn't have in mind much other than I wanted a sort of dandy top guy who may be dancing.


So I decide where I want the gold leaf and all those area would get a layer of white glue. This stuff dries within an hour. When buying the imitation gold leaf you basically buy a small container of glue and a bunch of very thin gold sheets.

Here (top left) is the little glue bottle, and I just went ahead and used a whole sheet right over the top of image (so you get an idea the size of the sheets) Once you lay a sheet over glue you need to gently burnish it. I use the thin liner sheets that come with the leaf, then use the back of my fingernails. You just need to keep your skin oils off the gold as that can tarnish the leafing.  I often cut the sheets and piecemeal them together to save on the leafing- but it takes a lot longer.


I have a Japanese paintbrush I find just perfect for the task of removing the loose gold. You have to be gentle so don't scrub too much over the same spot but essentially brush the loose stuff and pay special attention to get little scruffs from all edges.

Then take a break and pet the dog who has been begging for attention for a while now.

At this point (very important) you will need to seal the gold areas with a clear sealer. If you don't do this  the metal will tarnish (unlike the real gold). The sealer is sold along with glue. (I use a acrylic clear sealer I have in bulk though)                     

And then the other part.  You can also paint on the gold leaf once the sealer is completely dry. I often will blend a background from a darker color to the brightest gold so it's not as flat a background.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow Chris. I love the lesson. Thank you.
And that cute dog right in the middle!