I have just finished my first attempt at painting on a new substrate for me, 22 karat gold leaf. I start with a birch panel, apply four coats of traditional gesso, sanding to a smooth surface. I then applied sheets of gold leaf VERY carefully with a special adhesive. It is imperative to not handle the gold and so after the adhesive is set I protect the gold with shellac. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug who reside in India and Thailand. It is getting a bit difficult to locate but still available. Once that is dry I could begin painting on this unfamiliar, smooth surface.
If you are wondering why I am choosing such a costly substrate I do have a very good reason which goes to my world view and I am happy to share but only to those interested. The effect is much more beautiful in real life but I wanted to share this with you today. I hope to push my technique for some time.
Early Memory 16X16" Oil on Gold Leaf
I decided to reconsider a familiar tree this week. Looking pretty lonely out on a clear cut hill out behind my town it made a wonderful subject under a recent snowfall. I last painted this guy around five years ago. Snow is fantastic to paint. There are always great patterns and abstract designs to play with. I think this little tree turned out great. It is 24X20" still wet and is available for $800 with a nice frame.
I am experimenting with a new substrate for me, 23 carat gold leaf. I'm having lots of fun but it is a huge learning curve. As soon as I have something completed I will post it. I think that the finished product needs to be seen in person though. The gold captures and reflects the ambient light back out through the paint and changes as the viewer moves about in front of it. Very beautiful. That's the theory anyway. Until next time.
Having just taught a couple of weekend workshops I was asked by a number of participants about how I begin my process or as I like to call it "my point of departure". When beginning a new work I may occasionally have a very specific idea that is burning in my mind and it is really just about putting that down on canvas. Most often I will have a general idea and I need a method of clarifying the idea, beginning and discarding until I can distill the noise down into a simple design or scene.
There are tools and techniques I can utilize and one I will suggest here is thumbnail sketches . These are usually no more than two inches square rendered in less than a minute. Think of them as mini value studies, a way of getting the idea of where things will be placed and what things are most important. Here are some examples.
As you can see these are not precious, I am not invested in any of them, they are just a quick tool. I then can use these to draw up a larger and more committed picture. I should mention that these thumbnails are only roughly based on real scenes. I have taken parts that I like and edited out parts that don't help me to COMPOSE my picture. Art is never about replicating exactly whats in front of us. That is best left to illustration and documentation.
This is about 12X16". It gets to my main idea which is the scale of these clay banks and their proximity to our local farmlands. If you look closely you will see grid lines drawn. I will use these to transfer my composition onto a 36X48" canvas which is below.
I can now proceed with painting. The thumbnails are a great way to begin your process. Try it.