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Applying Gold Leaf to a Painting


Mya Bessette - Optimistic Fine Art

Contemporary acrylic and mixed media paintings with vibrant color and uplifting composition.

Applying Gold Leaf to a Painting

Mya Bessette

I’ll admit, when I first started using gold leaf in my art 10 years ago, I was intimidated. It’s so delicate and requires a steady hand and what if I messed up a painting that I loved in the process? The good news is that once you play with this medium a bit, and learn to work with its fragility, it’s actually quite a fun and forgiving material to add to your work. If I can offer any caution about gold leaf at all, it would be to use is moderation. If you’re anything like me, shiny, glimmering things draw you in; however, I try to temper my inner magpie and remember that a little goes a long way. Gold leaf can go from a lovely accent to a stage-stealing drama queen pretty quickly. So enjoy this intro video and please hit me up with any questions! I’ll do my best to answer them.

You will need the following materials:

  1. Composition Gold Leaf - I like Creative Concepts Composition Gold Leaf and Speedball Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Kit which comes with the adhesive size (glue.)

  2. Adhesive Size - This is the quick drying glue that you’ll apply to your painting prior to laying down the leaf. I use Mona Lisa Adhesive Size. This comes in the Speedball kit so no need to purchase if you go that route.

  3. As I was putting this list together, I noticed that Speedball also makes an adhesive size pen! I haven’t tried it but trust me it’s in my Amazon cart right now!

  4. A hard bristle paint brush. Quality is not important here. This brush will be used to press the leaf into the canvas and remove excess leaf.

  5. Spray varnish. I like Grumbacher Picture Matte Varnish for oil and acrylics.

  6. An acrylic painting begging for a touch of shimmer.

That’s it! Pretty simple stuff. It’s not unlike me to go on a gold leafing frenzy and apply gold to lamps, vases, frames and candle holders. Have fun and experiment!