Gold leaf

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Gold leaf

Can I paint over gold leaf with oil or acrylic paints? And how do I do it?


Ask Jacksons: Can I paint over gold leaf with oil or acrylic paints? And how do I do it?


Gold, as well as other kinds of metal leaf, makes a glowing surface for painting on with either oil or acrylic paints. Many supports, including oil or acrylic primed canvas, wooden panels, and paper, can be gilded with metal leaf using a size (a specialist metal leaf adhesive). Once the surface has been gilded, it should be sealed with a spirit-based varnish before painting. Sealing the gilded surface serves two purposes; it prevents the metal from tarnishing and protects the delicate metal leaf from scratches. If left unsealed, silver leaf, imitation gold leaf, and copper leaf will tarnish over time from exposure to the air and become dull or completely change colour. Gold leaf which is 22ct or above is resistant to tarnishing but, because it is so delicate, we recommend sealing it regardless. Once the varnish is dry, you are ready to paint with acrylics. If you are using oil paint, then first apply a coat of a fluid gloss acrylic medium to protect the varnish from oil painting solvents.

For more information about painting over metal leaf, including which varnishes are suitable for sealing it, read our blog post on the subject.


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