Oil Paint + Gold Leaf

I’m attempting to paint a series of work that incorporates gold and silver leaf, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

Here are some artists whose works are inspiring me along the way:

  • Brad Kunkle
  • Tran Nguyen
  • Yoann-Lossel

The cool thing about gold and silver leaf is that it adds this dimension to painting that’s only visible when the viewer participates in real time in that precise space. No photograph can fully capture the light’s play across leaf like the viewer can as he/she observes from different viewpoints. The experience therefore becomes that much more interactive and personal. Pretty neat, eh?

I’d like to now share with you the baby steps taken thus far to explore this interesting medium:

Here are my materials.

Mona Lisa Composition Gold Leaf (Imitation). You can get it here on Amazon for $7.96.

Mona Lisa Adhesive Size. This is the sticky stuff the leaf adheres to. You can also buy it here on Amazon for $5.99.

First I compose and paint the oil painting according to my standard process.

Thumbnail + Detailed Sketch, then Color Study, then Painting.

Time for metal leaf! In the image below I:

  1. Took a scratchy brush
  2. Dipped it in the Mona Lisa adhesive
  3. Wiped off the excess
  4. Dabbed in random sections across the canvas

If you are doing this for the first time, I highly recommend practicing on a spare piece of canvas or board first. Once the leaf sticks, it’s nigh impossible to remove!

The leaf material is like butterfly scales. Patience is key. Some of the leaf that didn’t stick scattered to the floor, in which case I’d often pick pieces back up with a brush and reapply them on other sticky sections. That technique often helped emphasize the grungy, textured look I was going for.

In the end, I was pleased with the result and am looking forward to continue experimenting with this medium! Would love to hear from any of you who have experience painting this way.

Self-teaching is great, but nothing beats personal instruction from masters in their fields.