Experimenting with gold leaf

I started the year with this painting of a jay, which had been living in my head for a few months. It needed to fly free!

I like to learn more about each animal I paint. Did you know I studied zoology at university for a while? So I learnt about its acorn stashing habit and that it’s Latin name translates as ‘chattering acorn eater’. Well it obviously needed an oak tree….

My challenge was then how to introduce the oak without distracting from the bird….hmmmm.

I hit upon the idea of oak leaves glinting through the gold. I mused that I could use texture paste, but I didn’t have a have a handle stencil or stamp, so how could I do this?

I love baking, so I grabbed an icing bad and a few nozzles, filled it with texture paste (if I ever offer you a cake, check the icing carefully…). The first nozzle was too big, so I used the finest I could find and piped a leaf. It sat too proud, so I tried letting it half dry and squished it down a bit. This looked horrible, so in the end I let it dry and then sanded it right down. The leaf is so thin that even a hair shows through, so I only needed a hint of texture. If I do this again I might sand it even more, without damaging the canvas of course.

I knew the leaf would break over the raised areas, so I tinted the size blue. If it showed through it would add to the effect. And then it was simply a case of leafing the surface.

If you want to emphasise the pattern, dragging a little Indian ink over the raised areas then rubbing it back would ‘antique’ it, I reckon. Maybe next time.

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