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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Oil on canvas with gilded areas - best practicesApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2016-10-31 06:10:06 ... Most recent comment 2016-10-31 09:10:00
    Flexible Supports Gilding Other Sizes and Adhesives
    I am about to start oil painting on canvas with gilded areas (gold leaves) and would be thankful for any advice when it comes to this, especially when it comes to the longevity of the gilded areas. I had previous experience in gilding hard surfaces (traditional Byzantine orthodox icons), but never worked with gold on canvas.
    To be more precise, let's start with size/mixtion. I am using Lefranc & Bourgeois Charbonnel Mixtion (3 hours). Any thoughts on the quality of that size? Will it become hard and brittle over time and cause the gold to crack due to the canvas' flexibility? I've got advice to apply one layer of size, let it dry out and then apply second layer of it before I put on the gold leaves - is this smart thing to do? Supposedly, this should somehow increase the flexibility of the surface...
    Additionally, I know gold is chemically mostly inert material, but are there any known problems related to the chemical reactions between the gold and oil paints? Should I additionally protect the gilded surface, or the varnish that I'm using is enough (Lefranc matt picture varnish for oils/acrylic)?
    Any tips&tricks related to best practices of gilding the canvas are most welcomed. Thanks!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerWhile we do not have direct experience with LeFranc and Bourgeois Mixtion, it is likely a high quality product; however it is also most likely to be intended for use on rigid supports as most oil sizes tend to form rather hard and brittle films. It is difficult to state whether one or two layers would be sufficient...this will likely have much to do with the composition, thickness, and absorbency of your ground and/or underlayers (are you gilding directly over oil paint?)....If you are working over an acrylic dispersion ground it may be better to use one of the water-born sizes (e.g. Aqua or Wonda size) as they will be more flexible. If you are working over a less absorbent oil ground/oil paint then it may be useful to first put down a thin layer of something more flexible like alkyd medium and let it dry before applying another thin layer of L&B size. As for the gold interacting with the oil paint you do not need to worry about sure to check wether you are using ACTUAL gold leaf as there are many different alloys that are available today. It is the presence of copper, zinc, and other metals that tend to be more problematic in the long term; however, this is really only an issue if you do not coat the metal alloy to protect it from environmental pollutants and moisture (both can cause the alloy to tarnish). If you have are dealing with an alloy it is best to coat the leaf for this reason, even if you intend to glaze over the surface with oil colors. Realize that a matt picture varnish will cut the sheen of the gold, something you may or may not want. To preserve the sheen it is better to use a non-matte varnish. For true gold leaf it is really up to you whether or not you want to coat the surface. In either instance (true gold vs. alloy), glazing over the surface using thin applications of oil paint is also possible but be aware that you may undercut the oil-based size if you do not wait long enough or if you use too much diluent.
    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2016-10-31 09:51:23
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentDear Kristin, thank you very much for the detailed response! I will be working over an acrylic dispersion ground, so I'll follow your advice and use water-based size. Like you said, since I am using real 24k golf leaves, I guess I shouldn't worry about gold interacting with the paint. Thanks again!
    2016-10-31 19:04:57

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