Saturday, June 3, 2017

Gold Leaf Gilding for Works of Art on Canvas, Paper, and Panels...a Study for Fine Artists

23kt Gold Leaf Gilded Pastiglia with Red Bole
Student gilding water color paper


















A particular new class that I've developed over the last few years, Gold Leaf Gilding for Works of Art on Canvas, Paper, and Panels...a Study for Fine Artists is, for me, one of the most intriguing and challenging both due to various mediums that artists use - oils, acrylics, water colors, and surfaces such as panels, canvas, paper - and perhaps even more, the individual approaches to artistic expression where gilding with gold or silver may be involved. 

Some of the most well-known examples come from artists such as Gustav Klimt of course but also those of more contemporary stature such as Brad Kunkle, Fred Wessel, Allessandra Maria among others. The use of gold leaf also extends back to 3rd - 7th century manuscript illuminations, 13th century Italian panel paintings, early Icon drawings, and to the exquisite Peruvian Cuzco School of painting where gilding played an integral and beautiful role known as brocateado de oro

Gilding, in essence, is the application of a metal to another surface. Gold leaf, silver leaf, white gold, palladium, and platinum as well as base metals such as copper, brass, and aluminum may all be gilded to a wide variety of surfaces using what we refer to as mordants or sizes which are adhesives ranging from protein binders to acrylic mediums. The practice of gilding involves several different methods depending up the surface and desired effect - traditional water gilding, mordant gilding of which oil gilding involves a prepared oil size, verre églomisé (reverse glass gilding), manuscript illumination (water gilding or the application of modern acrylic-based sizes such as miniatum from Kölner), and a contemporary version of water gilding from Kölner, a company based in Dresden, Germany.
Kölner Instacoll

The special luminosity of gold and silver leaf lends itself beautifully to certain works of art, whether as a background on panels where gesso incision and punchwork may be used to enhance a sense of brilliancy or complexity, or as slight embellishment to a painted canvas or the raised effect of gilded pastiglia on paper, literally dripped gesso as a relief which can then be water gilded.

Gold leaf gilding, however, remains a mystery to many, its options unknown, and the infiltration of quick-and-easy materials on the market may be confusing at best. In response to requests from Fine Artists I developed this class specifically for the artist seeking to incorporate gold leaf and other metals into their works of art.

One important skill which I teach in each of the gilding classes I offer is how to handle gold leaf which is as thin as .01 μm (4 millionths of an inch). This involves removing the leaf from the booklet, using the pad to lay the leaf to be cut with the gilder's knife, and using the tip, the delicate, flat fine-haired brush to lift the leaf from the pad to the surface.

During this one day workshop we work with a variety of mordants including oil size, Kölner's Instacoll, gum arabic, gum ammoniac, acrylic emulsion, clay bole, along with a summary of pastiglia and traditional water gilding. The idea is to educate the student with the many options available to them and the best approach to using the materials generally most suitable for use on canvas, paper, and panels. 
Oil Gilded Canvas Board, 23kt Gold Leaf


The Gold Leaf Gilding for Works of Art workshop is scheduled in several cities this year : June 13 in New York City at Sepp Leaf Products, Oct. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky at Art Sanctuary, and July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 9, Nov. 4, and Dec. 30 at my studio at Gasworks Gallery in Seattle, WA.

For those interested in attending the New York class there are a few spots open. I am also proposing an informal afternoon gathering at 1:00 pm at the Neue Gallery to view some of Klimt's gilded paintings including a very special viewing of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Woman in Gold)! The website at the Neue Gallery states a reduced admission of $10, a great way to end the class that week! Registration for the gilding class can be found at www.gildingstudio.com. Questions? Send me a note! Hope to see you!

~ Charles


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