Adding gold leaf and paint to ‘Vis-à-vis’

So, it’s been nearly a month since I posted the start of this painting, and since then things seem to have been going even more slowly than usual. I know what the problem is: quite apart from the fact that I seem to get slower and pickier with each year, at the back of my mind is a slight doubt that I actually want to render this painting in exactly the same way as the last several masquerade scenes.

The painting, having added the gold leaf and the blue under-painting
The painting, having added the gold leaf and the blue under-painting

I am liking the gold leaf background, and the blue under-painting, but usually this is the base on top of which I paint in actual colour. The trouble is that I always loose quite a lot of the detail in the initial blue painting when I add the colour, and I can’t help thinking that the blue in itself has a certain je ne sais quoi in it’s monochromatic simplicity, which is quite lost when I start laying on all the colour.

So I have dithered, spending even more time on the actual blue, anticipating the possibility that it might not be necessary to actually add colour, and at the same time thinking that it needs something more than what I have done, to hold it all together.

Well then, I finally come to the conclusion that the only thing for it is to paint the entire thing pale orange now.

Yes really…

Pale orange, over everything...
Pale orange, over everything…

Here is the paint going on. Why orange? Well what I want is kind of a non-colour, not white paper, but something like an off-white. But then I added in the orange because I want the optical opposite of the blue ‘shading’. What I really want is colour, without it being in colour. Hence pale orange.

The painting, now dried, with its wash of orange
The painting, now dried, with its wash of orange

I instantly like this effect (which is a relief, since there is no going back), though frankly it doesn’t show up well in the photo. It will, when I’m finished with it, but you’ll have to wait till the next post, sorry! Close up, you can see that the blue under-painting is all still there, and all that’s required is a little selective lifting of the orange wash to bring out some highlights.

And maybe a little touch of colour here and there? Um. I’m still dithering over that one… so, until then…

Masquerade painting: 'Vis-à-vis', so far...
Masquerade painting: ‘Vis-à-vis’, so far…


  1. I just love your work, amazing painting.

    1. Thank you, I appreciate the compliment… having just, in a quite un-related incident, had to effect a major storming-out of somewhere, I appreciate even more that I come home to appreciative comments about my artwork!!! That’s another story, but just wanted to say that your kind comments are appreciated 🙂

      1. I understand what you mean and I’m glad my comments helped a little 🙂

  2. Just absolutely wonderful and fascinating. I just finished an inkjet print on gold leaf and it came out looking great.

    1. Excellent… I have seen your blog post on the subject. Have you used actual gold leaf at all? It’s not all that expensive, but might be for prints. Also smaller and might be a shock to handle if you’re used to the copper alloy stuff!!

      1. Yes, thank you Nancy – this time around I am using real gold leaf that was generously given to me. It sure is harder to handle, but I think I’ve got it. The quality of the print is just so much better than on the copper stuff. I am totally smitten by it.

        1. That’s very interesting – is the actual print-quality better, or just the general goldy-glowyness of it? Gold is the ultimate thing 🙂 (I worked as a goldsmith for some years, so I may be biased!)

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