Saturday, April 29, 2017

Painting of Nesting Egrets on Gold Leaf

Lately I've found myself itching to try my hand at something new. Namely Gold Leaf. Now, if you've ever tried to use the stuff you'll understand me when I say - AAAGH! That stuff is really hard to work with! You literally have to hold your breath every time you try to place a little bit of it.  It's so thin and so light that the slightest puff of air will send it flying or rip it to pieces.  Sooo... having tried my hand sometime back with imitation gold leaf or metal leaf, as it's called, I decided I'd better stick to the faux stuff until I get a bit more practice.  I had quite a bit on hand since my last experiment with repairing a frame so I figured I could do a respectably good size piece.

I wanted something relatively monochromatic for the main subject.  I felt color could come later so I chose a couple of Snowy Egrets for this first experiment.  After building and preparing a substrate (panel), I transferred the cartoon to the panel and did a sketchy under painting.  I then prepared the area around the birds with adhesive, waited the requisite amount of time (about 30 minutes) and then commenced with the torturous job of laying the leaf.  Yes, it looks very silvery in the photo.  The light on my easel casts a bit cool.

The next step was to seal the leaf with an oil based shellac.  That was easy and it dried fairly quickly so I was able to proceed with the next step. I laid a coat of Transparent Brown Oxide in small sections (that's a lot like burnt umber) and then started to wipe out leaves and the shape of a tree running diagonally on the right top corner.

Once I completed that step, I moved on to the birds. That was a bit more up my alley and so I was able to move fairly quickly through the rest of the piece. I finished up with some details and some darkening of shadows to allow for a little more integration - but not too much. They are, after all, a bit more realistic than the background.  I wanted them to stand out a bit.

The final result is, I think, respectable.  I can see I'll need some more practice with this medium but I'm enjoying the journey.  I have a show coming up in June at the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. I hope to feature this piece along with two or three miniature portraits on gold leaf.  Now those will really be fun!

"Nesting Egrets"
22" x 24"
Oil on Faux Gold Leaf