Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gold Leaf in a Painting

Portrait in Green and Gold
16 x 12
Maybe because Vienna has proclaimed this to be the year of Gustav Klimt I've become interested in gold in paintings.  I bought some genuine gold leaf a few weeks ago and have been waiting impatiently for an opportunity to use it.  This painting seemed right because of its overall gold tone, and also because of the patterning on the robe.

I painted the majority of the piece and then rubbed away as much paint as possible from the front of the robe.  After it had dried, I painted on the adhesive in those bare spots and waited the 3 hours that it takes for the glue to become tacky.  Then came the really tricky part.

Gold leaf is as fine as spider webs: flimsy and ethereal.  It floats and crinkles in the tiniest air current and will stick to absolutely everything.  Using the special little gilder's brush that I'd purchased, I tried to pick up the 2 square inch piece of leaf.  It rumpled and twisted under the soft bristles and left precious bits of itself like dandruff on my table.  But I managed to slap it gracelessly down on the adhesive and gently brush it out to cover the pattern.  It filled in the pattern nicely, and it filled in everything in between as well.  There was a solid square of gold stuck to the woman's robe and I had a moment's panic.

Luckily, with the help of a stiff brush, I was able to scrub off the excess gold.  In the end, it created a desirable effect.  The gold's edge is rough and broken, not crisp like Klimt would have preferred.  I  brushed a diluted mixture of Galkyd over the gold and, after it dried, painted around and over the gold  to integrate it into the painting.

I'm looking forward to using more gold in future paintings when another appropriate piece comes along.



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