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Stunning 5 Ways To Add Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings

Adding gold leaf to your acrylic paintings has become a great way to add unique value to your artwork. Though gilding gold leaf can either be done using an adhesive or through the water method, both processes produce the stunning effect of gold on your painting surface. We will teach you how to do this the right way.

Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings
Adding gold leaf on your painting surface – Stunning 5 Ways To Add Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings

What are the different ways to add a gold leaf to your acrylic paintings? Can you use a real gold leaf over an imitation one? Can you identify the differences? What are the easy applications or steps when adding gold leaf to your acrylic painting?

Contents

Why Apply Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings

Applying gold leaf on your acrylic paintings or even with oil paintings has been one of the must-try processes for every artist. The process gives stunning effects on your painting surface. Whether working with a real gold leaf or an imitation one, the results are almost the same.

The gilding process means applying gold leaf over your painting surface using the adhesive specially designed for this process. It is the most straightforward process to apply gold leaf over a painting surface, though it is another way to do it via water. However, that process is tricky for beginners.

On the other hand, gilding using water provides stunning results. The water gilding procedure is highly recommended when working with photo frames. You will achieve a glowing gold effect over the surface you have applied with.

You can try both processes for different purposes to see which one works best for you. For the moment, it is best to work with the adhesive gilding process to allow self-improvement moving forward.

Before jumping over to what type of gold leaf you should use, it is best to know their difference. Check out below to help you decide which one you use for your artwork.

Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings
Acrylic painting with gold leaf – Stunning 5 Ways To Add Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings

 

Difference Between Real Gold Leaf And Imitation Gold Leaf

Several artists use real gold leaf. It varies on the ‘karats’ of the real gold that you will use as a real gold leaf is quite expensive. It’s highly recommended that beginners try the imitation ones as they are more affordable and have similar effects on painting surfaces. Once you have gained enough confidence and experience with the process, feel free to use a real gold leaf.

Applying gold leaf to your acrylic paintings gives stunning effects over your artwork. There are two ways you can add these elements to your painting surface.

You can use a gold leaf adhesive, the most straightforward process recommended for beginners.

You can apply the gold leaf with the water process; it requires experience due to the complicated procedures.

Using an imitation gold leaf on your acrylic paintings allows you to have various color selections to choose from. Imitation gold leaf is made from zinc and copper. On the other hand, real gold leaves come from natural gold pigments.

Another factor worth considering with gold leaf application is the paintbrush marks between water or adhesive method. You can get this stunning result if you work with the adhesive gilding method. Results vary from how the artists want the surface to look.

Pro-tip; Use real gold leaf when working with the water gilding method. And use imitation gold leaf when working with acrylics and oil paintings.

StGold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings
Gilded acrylic painting- Stunning 5 Ways To Add Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Paintings

Factors To Consider When Gilding

You’ll achieve a stunning artwork surface using gold leaf alongside your acrylic painting. This article will learn the difference and importance of the proper ways to seal gold leaf over the painting surface.

There are two ways to do this process, and the results vary from how you want the results done;

  • Pre-paint sealing.

Suppose you are gilding with a painting surface from acrylics or oil paints; best to seal it via pre-painting. This is done if you mix gold leaf on your acrylic paintings. It protects the gilding method from getting damaged, scratched, and even the possibility of it getting removed from the surface itself.

  • Post-paint sealing.

This process of sealing gold leaf is far different from the first one. Suppose you are applying gold leaf over an almost finished painting; best to work with post-paint sealing. It’s like protecting the painting surface and gold leaf simultaneously.

You are not just protecting the gilded area; even the painting surface is covered. You can use an archival varnish to achieve stunning results. The best part about archival varnish is that they have UV protection to keep your paint and gilded area from fading.

The archival varnish can last for a longer time, and you can remove them when the surface gets dirty or dusty. It’s removable and works on adding a newly coated layer afterward. It will help protect your artwork for a more extended time.

Results vary for these types of sealing when applying gold leaf to your acrylic paintings. Check which product works best to achieve the perfect results you are aiming for.

gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Gold leaf adding on your painting

Beginners Guide To Gold Leaf Application Over Acrylic Paintings

 

The factors mentioned above affect how you apply gold leaf on your acrylic paintings. Here’s a quick beginners guide and how to do it effectively:

Step 1. Work on your painting surface.

Apply preferred colors on the painting surface. The procedure is more like preparing to add the gold leaf for later. If you visualize your idea of where to add the gold leaf, do so, and paint your acrylics over it.

You can modify the painting surface texture based on your style and preference.

Step 2. Apply gold leaf adhesive on your painting surface.

There are two types of gilding adhesive to work on. The water-based adhesive and the solvent-based gold leaf adhesive. Suppose you are working with your acrylics; best to go for the non-toxic type water-based adhesive.

On the other hand, if you apply your gold leaf over the painting surface, best to use the solvent-based type of adhesive for oil paints.

Step 3. Apply your gold leaf to the preferred surface area.

You can even wait a little time until your adhesive is tacky.

The gold leaf will stick easily, or use wax paper to lift off the gold leaf from its sheet.

  • Do this by creating static over the gold leaf.
  • Rub it off with wax paper over your gold leaf.
  • Once you lift off the gold leaf, you can apply some pressure over the wax paper into your painting surface covered with adhesive.
  • Use a soft cloth to do this process. Let the adhesive be thoroughly dried. This will take time between a couple of days to even a week.
Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Gold leaf ideas for your artworks

Step 4. Remove the excess gold leaf over the painting surface.

You can do this by using a small paintbrush.

Step 5. Apply your paint sealant.

Based on your style or preference, this will protect your gold leaf for the next step.

You can choose whether you will apply paint or not in your gilded area. There are also different ways to do gilding from other painting mediums like watercolors.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Gold leaf on your painting surface ideas

What To Look For When Buying Gold Leaf

Preparing all your materials before painting is a vital process. It enables you to concentrate on the things that matter the most. Since gilding uses gold leaf, purchasing the right to fit your preference and style entirely is essential. You need to check when buying gold leaf for your acrylic painting.

 

Size

The size of the surface you’ll be placing gold leaf is a significant element you’ll need to consider. This will help you decide whether you’ll need a large size leaf or you can work with imitation flakes in bottles.

 

Color

The gilding process provides a luminous and luxurious finish. The higher the gold pigment on a gold leaf, the more it costs. Real gold leaf sheets are made from beaten gold and applied on preferred surfaces.

 

There are various colors available that match an artist’s preference and needs. Using natural gold leaves can be tricky, and they cost more. Newcomer gilders prefer imitation to help them improve their skills until they are ready to use pricey genuine gold leaf.

 

You can choose several colors, including deeper or lighter gold hues, shades in pink, coppers, pewter, reds, teals, greens, terra cotta, and purple. Blue hues are complex as gold, and blue combinations often yield a greenish color.

Application

Checking how to apply your gold leaf through the painting surface is vital. Some gold leaf comes with complex instructions, while others are handy. One thing worth noting is that gold leaf is sensitive.

 

Others prefer applying gold leaf when the surface is quite tacky to ensure it doesn’t smear and the process is more straightforward. Gold leaf can offer an intense shine and distinction to an artwork.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Gold leaf added on a portrait with frame

If it’s your first time applying gold leaf on your painting surface, best to check our step-by-step guide to help you get familiar with the process and improve your skills moving forward.

 

Some artists rub the other side of a gold leaf onto paper or tissue and wear cotton gloves to prevent contact with the gold leaf as it can cause oxidation and tarnishing.

 

Shine And Intensity

The color of your gold leaf varies with the quality you have purchased. We recommend using a higher quality gold leaf that may cost you a little compared to the lower price. The shine and intensity of a cheap gold leaf may not match what you need. Other beginner artists prefer to use high-quality products to make sure they achieve better results.

 

Artists who use the gilding technique want to stimulate gleaming ornamentation by using gold leaf. Gold leaf application can be tricky, but you’ll have stunning results when applied correctly.

 

Quality

Expect excellent quality and stunning results when using real gold leaf. However, if you’ll be using imitation ones, the quality matters. You may opt for lower karats gold leaf without compromising the quality of your work.

 

Since you can mix gold with other metals, you can get a lower gold alloy if real gold is not within your range yet. Check for a gold leaf with 18, 16, or 12 karats for your decorated piece. Imitation gold leaf should check higher great quality products so you’ll still achieve stunning results.

 

Price

Lastly, your budget helps you find the perfect fit to meet your requirements. Whether you want to use real gold leaf or go for imitation varies with individual preference and style. Gold leaf price starts from $5 to $50, depending on quality, durability, shine, and gold alloy present on each sheet or flake.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Different ways to add gold leaf on multiple surface

How Long Does A Gold Leaf Last

The gilding process is a sophisticated process where artists include gold alloy on their painting surface. The process alone provides a luminous and stunning artwork. The feeling can last between 20 to 30 years with an unsealed exterior if properly applied. If you use 23 karat gold leaf, some won’t recommend sealing them as the sealant properties can damage the surface after a long time.

The sealed surface can last between three to five years. The sealing process depends on the artist’s preference. As for beginners, it’s best to experiment with your painting surface and see which one works best for you. Some may not seal their gilded surface, while others will do it to protect the gilding method.

 

Can You Put Gold Leaf On Acrylic Paint?

 

  • Gold leaf is a type of metal leaf that is made from gold. It is often used for gilding, which is applying a thin layer of gold to another surface.
  • Acrylic paint is a type of synthetic resin-based paint. It is water-resistant and can be used on many different surfaces.

 

You can put gold leaf on acrylic paint, but it is not a common practice. This is because the gold leaf is typically used on surfaces that are not water-resistant, and acrylic paint is not the best surface for gilding. The gold leaf will not adhere well to the acrylic paint and may flake off over time. If you want to put gold leaf on acrylic paint, it is best to use a sealant or varnish over the top of the paint to help keep the gold leaf in place.

 

Most artists who add gold leaf to their paintings use oil paint instead of acrylic paint. This is because oil paint is more porous, which allows the gold leaf to adhere better. You can still put gold leaf on acrylic paint, but it may not last as long or look as good as it would on oil paint.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Cathedral adornment ceiling with gold leaf

Some of the best practices of adding gold leaf to your acrylic painting include:

 

  1. Use a very thin layer of acrylic paint so the gold leaf can stick better.
  2. Use a sealant or varnish over the top of the paint to help keep the gold leaf in place.
  3. Be sure to add the gold leaf as soon as possible after painting, so it has a better chance of sticking.
  4. Use oil paint instead of acrylic paint for the best results.

 

Gold leaf can be a beautiful addition to any painting, but it is essential to follow the proper steps to stay in place and look its best. With a little bit of planning, you can add gold leaf to your next acrylic painting and create a stunning work of art.

 

How Do You Stick Gold Leaf To Acrylic Paint?

 

Gold leaf is a very thin sheet of gold usually applied to surfaces to give them a gilded appearance. It is often used on picture frames, furniture, and architectural details. If you plan to add this intricate design to your acrylic painting, there are some factors you need to take into consideration first.

 

The most important thing you need to remember is that gold leaf will not stick to acrylic paint unless the paint is prepared correctly. You will need to apply a layer of gesso or an acrylic size before applying the leaf. This will ensure that the leaf adheres appropriately and does not peel off.

 

Once you have applied the size or gesso, you can now apply the gold leaf. You can do this using various methods, but the most popular is by using a brush. To apply the leaf with a brush, simply dip the brush into some water and then lightly dab it onto the leaf.

If you want to achieve a more even coverage, you can also use a cotton swab or a soft cloth. Once you have applied the leaf, allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

 

Now that the leaf is dry, you can now apply your topcoat. This can be either acrylic paint or varnish. If you are using acrylic paint, make sure it is compatible with gold leaf.

 

Applying the topcoat will protect the leaf and keep it from tarnishing. It will also give your painting a nice shine. Allow the topcoat to dry entirely before Displaying or varnishing your painting.

 

Gold leaf can add a touch of luxury to any painting. However, it is essential to remember that it must be appropriately applied to achieve the best results. You can easily add this beautiful accent to your next acrylic painting by following these simple tips.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Gilded sword adorn with gold leaf

How Do You Add Gold Leaf to A Painting?

 

Although there are many debates on whether or not you should add gold leaf to your painting, there are some who love the idea of it. It can give your artwork a more sophisticated and elegant look. If you’re planning on adding gold leaf to your next acrylic painting, here’s what you need to do:

 

  1. Add a layer of gesso to your painting. This will help the gold leaf adhere better to the painting surface.
  2. Cut the gold leaf into small pieces using a sharp knife.
  3. Apply the gold leaf to the painting surface using a small brush or your fingers.
  4. Once you’re happy with the placement of the gold leaf, gently press it down onto the surface.
  5. Allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting.

 

Here are other ways to add a gold leaf to your painting surface.

Watercolors

 

You can either use gouache or mix your own with water and gold leaf paint for watercolors.

 

  1. Begin by sketching out your design on watercolor paper using a light-colored pencil. This will help you see the gold leaf better once it’s applied.
  2. Paint over the entire sketch with a thin layer of clear gesso. This will help the gold leaf adhere to the paper.
  3. Cut the gold leaf into small pieces using a sharp knife.
  4. Apply the gold leaf to the painting surface using a small brush or your fingers.
  5. Once you’re happy with the placement of the gold leaf, gently press it down onto the surface.
  6. Allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting.

 

Oil Paints

 

You’ll need to first mix the gold Leaf with clear-drying oil such as linseed oil for oil paints.

 

  1. Begin by sketching out your design on canvas or another painting surface using a light-colored pencil. This will help you see the gold leaf better once it’s applied.
  2. Paint over the entire sketch with a thin layer of clear gesso. This will help the gold leaf adhere to the surface.
  3. Mix the gold leaf and clear drying oil until it forms a paste in a small bowl.
  4. Apply the gold leaf paste to the painting surface using a small brush or your fingers.
  5. Once you’re happy with the placement of the gold leaf, gently press it down onto the surface.
  6. Allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting.

 

You can also check this article on how to work your gold leaf and oil paints here for additional details.

Acrylics

 

You’ll need to first mix the gold leaf with clear acrylic gel or medium for acrylics.

 

  1. Begin by sketching out your design on canvas or another painting surface using a light-colored pencil. This will help you see the gold leaf better once it’s applied.
  2. Paint over the entire sketch with a thin layer of clear gesso. This will help the gold leaf adhere to the surface.
  3. Mix the gold leaf and clear acrylic gel or medium until it forms a paste in a small bowl.
  4. Apply the gold leaf paste to the painting surface using a small brush or your fingers.
  5. Once you’re happy with the placement of the gold leaf, gently press it down onto the surface.
  6. Allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting.
Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Carriage with gilding design as adornment

Pastel Paint

 

Although there are minimal colors available in gold leaf paint, you can use it to add a metallic sheen to your pastel painting.

 

  1. Begin by sketching out your design on paper or another painting surface using a light-colored pencil. This will help you see the gold leaf better once it’s applied.
  2. Paint over the entire sketch with a thin layer of clear gesso. This will help the gold leaf adhere to the surface.
  3. Cut the gold leaf into small pieces using a sharp knife.
  4. Apply the gold leaf to the painting surface using a small brush or your fingers.
  5. Once you’re happy with the placement of the gold leaf, gently press it down onto the surface.
  6. Allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting.

 

Other Painting Medium

 

Besides watercolors, oil paints, acrylics, and pastels, you can also use gold leaf paint on other painting mediums. These include tempera, casein, and encaustic.

 

  • Tempera is a water-based paint that uses powdered pigments. To use gold leaf paint with tempera, simply mix the powder with a small amount of water until it forms a paste. Then follow the steps above for applying the gold leaf.
  • Casein is an opaque water-based paint made from milk proteins. It dries hard and can be used on a variety of surfaces. To use gold leaf paint with casein, simply mix the powder with a small amount of water until it forms a paste. Then follow the steps above for applying the gold leaf.
  • Encaustic is made from beeswax and resin and is applied hot. It dries hard and can be used on a variety of surfaces. To use gold leaf paint with encaustic, simply mix the beeswax and resin until it forms a paste. Then follow the steps above for applying the gold leaf.

 

You’ll need to allow the gold leaf to dry entirely before framing or displaying your painting with any of these painting mediums.

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Religious icon with gilding technique

FAQs About Gold Leaf On Your Acrylic Painting

 

Q: What is gold leaf?

Gold leaf is a thin sheet of actual gold used for various decorative purposes. They can be applied to surfaces like wood, glass, metal, and even skin.

 

Q: How do you apply gold leaf?

There are various methods for applying gold leaf, depending on the surface you’re working with. For example, when using gold leaf to wood, you would first need to prepare the surface by sanding it down and painting it with a primer. Once the primer is dry, you can apply the gold leaf using an adhesive.

 

Q: What are some of the most common uses for gold leaf?

Gold leaf is often used for gilding, which is applying a thin layer of gold to another surface. It’s also commonly used in art, architecture, cosmetics, and skincare products.

 

Q: Are there any precautions I should take when working with gold leaf?

Since the gold leaf is a delicate material, handling it with care is essential. Ensure you’re working in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves to avoid skin contact. Inhaling gold leaf particles can also be dangerous, so using a dust mask is essential when applying it.

 

Q: Can I reuse gold leaf?

Yes, gold leaf can be reused as long as it’s stored properly. Keep it in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight to prevent it from deteriorating.

 

Q: Where can I buy gold leaf?

Gold leaf is available at most craft stores or online. You can also find it at some hardware stores or specialty shops.

 

Q: How much does gold leaf cost?

The price of the gold leaf varies depending on the size and quality. A sheet of gold leaf can range from $5 to $50.

 

Q: How do I protect the surface of my painting with gold leaf in it?

To protect the surface of your painting, you can apply a clear sealant or varnish over the top of the gold leaf. This will help to prevent it from tarnishing or scratching.

 

Q: Will the color stay the same after applying sealant or varnish on your gold leaf?

The color may change slightly after applying a clear sealant or varnish. However, this will not affect the overall look of your painting.

gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Building architecture with gilding technique for design

Q: Can I frame my painting with a gold leaf in it?

Yes, you can frame your painting with gold leaf. Just make sure to use acid-free materials to avoid damaging the gold leaf.

 

Q: Is gold leaf safe to use on skin?

Gold leaf is considered safe to use on the skin. However, it’s essential to avoid contact with open wounds or mucous membranes. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to do a patch test before applying it to a larger area.

 

Famous Artists Who Use Gold Leaf In Their Painting

 

Acrylics are popular among artists for their versatility. You can thin them out to create washes of color or build them up in thick layers to create texture. Gold leaf is a popular addition to acrylic paintings, as it can add a touch of luxury and refinement. Here are some well-known artists who often incorporate gold leaf into their work.

 

Jackson Pollock

 

One of the most famous painters of the 20th century, Jackson Pollock, was known for his “drip” paintings. He would pour or drip paint onto a canvas, often using household items like sticks or brooms to create exciting patterns. To add a touch of glamour to his paintings, Pollock would sometimes incorporate gold leaves.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe

Gold leaf on your acrylic painting
Popular artists who use gold leaf on their artworks – Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was an American painter known for her large-scale flowers. She often used a stippling technique, applying small dots of color to build up the overall image. To add shimmer and dimension to her paintings, O’Keeffe would sometimes add gold leaf.

 

Norman Rockwell

 

Norman Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator, best known for his work on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. He often used gold leaf in his paintings, adding a touch of luxury and refinement.

 

Gustav Klimt

 

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter who was a part of the Art Nouveau movement. He is best known for his paintings of women, often incorporating gold leaf into the background. The gold leaf added a touch of luxury and mystery to his work.

 

Leonardo da Vinci

 

One of the most famous painters of all time, Leonardo da Vinci also used gold leaves in his paintings. He often applied it to the clothes of his subjects, as it added a touch of luxury and refinement.

Final Words

The gilding technique is one of the best painting techniques you should try at least once in your painting journey. It allows you to include luxury on any painting surface. The more you practice and work on this technique, the more you can improve your skills. The products mentioned above will help you improve your skills, primarily if you work with gold leaf on your acrylic paintings.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and techniques! It seems that you have found a good way to work with real gold leaf as well as imitation leaf. I too have seen oxidized imitation leaves that were still in a book. Keeping the imitation leaf in airtight packages certainly helps to prevent that. Thank you for that extra tip!

  2. I am very grateful for your effortsto putt on this
    article. This guide is very informative, updated and translucent.
    Can I expect you will post this type of another article inthe nearr future?

    Best regards,
    Demir Raahauge

    • Sure will do that! And we’re equally grateful to you too. We’ll keep you posted and let’s share more wonderful experiences! Cheers and have a wonderful day!

  3. I simply want to say I’m all new to blogs and really enjoyed this blog. Very likely I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You certainly have outstanding articles. Bless you for sharing with us your web site.

    • Awesome! Glad you’ve found this article more helpful than we do. We appreciate you’re effort and would love to hear more stories from you! Keep us posted, cheers to more wonderful arts!

  4. Hello, looking for tips on sealing or varnishing an acrylic painting where I put imitation gold leaf in small areas. I want to keep the gold shiny with the rest of the painting matte. The only solution I have is to manually brush a glossy/seal on the gold areas and manually brush on a matte varnish on the acrylic paint areas. Any other ideas? Thank you!

    • Thanks for dropping by Angela! I use archival varnish to seal delicate golf leaf areas to retain their intensity and shine. You can manually brush or spray the glossy archival varnish to seal and prime your gilded acrylic surface as it’s delicate and prone to damages like scratch, dust, and other elements.

      For the whole acrylic surface, you can brush off a matte sealant if you want to keep the surface matte or less glossy.

      It’s all about an artist’s preference whether to choose a glossy or matte varnish. The main reason why several artists apply “varnish/sealant” is to protect the surface against various elements that may compromise the quality of an artwork.

      Hope I help you out and don’t forget to update us! I’d love to see your artwork too!

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