Reverse Gold Leaf Glass Paintings

Last Wednesday evening, I was invited to give a demonstration at the World of Wonders Science Museum. This was a kick off event, a new type of evening fundraiser for the museum, titled “An Evening into the Unknown, Where Science Meets Art”. Every month, a different demonstration will bring science and art together for the public. My demonstration was the art of laying gold leaf behind glass in the water gilding method. The turnout was good and the audience was dazzled and entertained, many ‘unknown’ to this craft.

The local paper provided coverage of the event,

I showed the proper way to clean and prepare the glass, making the gelatin water size, laying the leaf to the glass on the reverse side, how to burnish the leaf, backing up the leaf with a lettering brush, using a steady hand and a mahl stick, and finally cleaning the excess gold away to reveal the lettering outline preserved. Many glass pieces were displayed, including one for the WOW Science Museum. When this piece is finished with a final backup and framed, I will post it here with a couple step by step pics, also.

In advance of the evening’s demonstration, I created three pieces of reverse gilded glass, painted in the verre e’glomise’ technique. Verre e’glomise’ is a French term for reverse glass gilding and painting. Here are pictures of three pieces of glass I gilded and painted in reverse, they will be framed and available through the science museum.

The first is a Golden Scarab Beetle, rendered with 23k Gold Leaf and Palladium leaf,that is etched and backed up with Japan colors. Next, stippled clear and black fibroseal and followed up with bronze mica powders, Then, I painted in colors of gouache and backed the entire glass with green variegated leaf.

Next, I gilded this piece with 23K Gold Leaf, and etched a fossil through the leaf, After backing the image with Japan Colors, gouache was applied and mixed in the appearance of stone. Then I gilded the next layer with black variegated leaf.

The third piece I created was from an underwater photograph I was able to snap as we were snorkeling in a bay near Kona, Hawaii. The guide called to us within minutes of entering the water, pointing in the direction of a sea turtle that was spotted in the distance. I we swam towards the location, in the distance I could see the peaceful movements of the turtle heading straight towards me. It never changed direction and I was able to get several pictures, this from directly above as it swam beneath me. I gild the glass with 23K and Palladium leaf, then etched the turtle, revealing the light and lines of the shell and the sectional areas making its head and legs. Next, I filled in the turtle with three Japan colors, blending as I painted. Next, I applied abalone shell fragments and mica powders, and when dry, painted colors of coral in with gouache. Finally, I backed the entire piece with 18K Gold Leaf, reflecting a warmth through the color.

Creating art by reverse gilding and painting of glass is invigorating and leaves me with a thirst to create a new watercolor. Then, I finish a watercolor and crave the brilliance of the gold, a endless circle of fun and discovery.

Gilder’s Conclave

I recently returned from a gathering of fellow dedicated gilders and artisans who share time and techniques by working on a project for the weekend. This annual conclave was started 27 years ago by a friend and mentor of many, Rick Glawson. Rick passed away unexpectedly in 2003, but the gathering has continued in his honor, to encourage the sharing of knowledge and techniques of timeless practices of laying gold leaf, in reverse, in glass.

This glass piece was designed for last years gathering, by a good friend, Larry White, and titled ‘High Plains Gilder”. The glass is 29″ x 24″ x 1/4″ and has a 4″ wide stained poplar wood frame.  Larry’s design immediately conjured up visions of a western novel, I had to attempt a simulated watercolor effect for a cover of the fictitious paperback novel. After laying 23k gold leaf in the traditional water gilding method, I distressed the remaining gold in the dirt street-scape. Next, I slapped transparent screen inks on the glass like banging color onto a sheet watercolor paper. Most of the traditional gilders in the room were quite apprehensive to my style, thinking I may ruin the picture. One thing the gathering does insure is not every artisan’s project turns out the same, all are beautiful pieces and reflections of each Gilder. The success of this technique became very apparent once the finished painting was framed with a sheet of watercolor paper mounted behind the glass.

This year’s project is not yet framed, I will add this when it is completed. I have been asked to design next years Gilder’s project, I hope to create a design that will encourage others to attempt to break from the ordinary.

Machine… End of the Line

Art can be expressed in so many ways, but what is each artist’s individual expression is what matters the most, especially if it strikes a different chord in every viewer. Here I had the opportunity to create a gift for a good friend, inspired by his enthusiasm for building and a mutual enjoyment of fine western movies. Seven different movie set pieces are featured in this painting, seems they all  have something inside, something to do with death. “Happens to everyone sooner or later” is a line from another film that comes to mind.

I sat in his yard quickly sketching several different vantage points, and then sketching again,  all the pieces together. Then, I created a couple of value sketches to find my composition, where I wanted to go. Once I decided on the direction, I began to paint, now only choosing the colors I wanted to use. Painting in this style is free and loose, painting how I feel as I lay the color down in the strokes I choose. This is a watercolor painted on Lanaquarelle 140lb cold press paper.

Feel very free to let me know how this piece makes you feel.

Mr Toad

Mr Toad has the honor of jump starting this inaugural post. Welcome to my blog. Here you will discover I like to hop around from commercial art projects to fine art creations. My career takes me from custom hand lettering on signs, calligraphy on cards, gold leaf behind glass, interior and exterior murals, acrylic on canvas and watercolor painting. Is there a barrier between commercial and fine art? That is not a debate I want to begin. I may design a legible brand or logo identity with contrasting shapes and lines, or I create a painting not from what I see, but from what I think or feel. In each endeavor, I hope to find what ought to be. If I entertain and communicate, perhaps I succeeded. Maybe. Maybe not.

I welcome your comments. There are no formalities here. Your honesty is my reward.

Mr Toad is a watercolor. He is a symbol of evolution. To me, he is also a symbol of freedom. Freedom to hop from project to painting, discovering which way his toad ride may take him. I invite you to hop along. You may see a watercolor painting, or a large mural, or hand lettering and/or a new watercolor. I’m past the point of no return now, waiting to pop out the other side.