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April 2, 2014

How To Make DIY Gold Leaf Abstract Art

Hey ya'll! 
I'm taking a break from renovation updates for a week or two. I have so much to tell you. I can barely stand the wait, but I think it's best to let everything get finished and then share everything.

In the meantime....

To get my mind off the fact that I'm living out of a Jansport and finding dust in places dust should NEVER be, 
I made some art.

 I came home from this awful routine early yesterday, put on my Jesse sweatpants, put the roommates elsewhere (because as we learned last time, Tootie and Cheese hate art), sat on my bed, and played with gold leaf and paint.

It was a glorious reprieve...
from this scene currently underway in my entryway.

So, I attempted to create a little beauty amongst the chaos.
Here's my gold leaf abstract painting.

I've been wanting to make one for awhile now, and after seeing these beautiful versions here and here, I trotted my pony as close to the wagon as I could, and slung myself right in.
Pony's current whereabouts: unknown.

I've created my fair share of art in the past, and this one is definitely a favorite. 
The gold leaf really just makes it.

Plus, I feel like it'll look good just about anywhere. Not like I have any way of testing that theory right now, but ya know.

For the time being, I hung it above Bartholomew.
After all this time, I've never properly introduced you. 
You can call him Bart if you'd like.

So, let's run through a quick tutorial. 

The good news is that if you possess the ability to smoosh paint on a canvas and use a glue stick, you can do this.
If this artistic amoeba can do it, anyone can.

Here's what I used to make mine:
Glue stick
Artist's brushes
 Oil Paints (You can also use acrylics.)
Heavy structure gel. I used the Galeria kind. 
*Above links are affiliate links.

Since I was using oil paints (just because I love the way they look), I applied my gold leaf first. 
Oil paints take forever to dry, and this thing is still wet almost 24 hours later. 
I know. It's hanging on my wall. 

But, anyways, if you use acrylic paint, you can apply the gold leaf before or after.
Just apply the glue wherever you want your gold leaf to be. 
I swirled it around randomly.

Then, put a sheet of gold leaf over the glue. This stuff is flimsy and gets flakes everywhere if you're not careful, so I was extra delicate with the manhand.
Welcome back, Kotter.

After allowing the glue to completely dry, I just used a paper towel to shake off the excess leaf into a bag.

Once your gold leaf is done, it's time for paint. You don't have to do this next step, but I really love the way it looks. I mixed in heavy structure gel into my paint after I mixed it, just to give it that 'impasto' look. It basically just makes your paint have texture and stand out from the canvas.
I just used a paper plate for my paint mixing. Luxury.

You can make your art in any shape, color, form, or texture.
 That's what makes it abstract.

If you buy a paint pack like I did, they usually come with most of the basic colors. You can mix and match them to create other colors, and then add white to lighten or black to darken. I actually have this little color wheel that I use when mixing paint (affiliate link). A reader suggested it to me way back in the day, and I've been using it ever since.
I really struggled with mixing colors when I first started painting. Mostly because I would overmix and end up with brown, brown, and more brown. And I've since learned that a little color mixology knowledge goes a really long way when making art. 
So, for those of you who find specifics helpful, that big blob in the below pic (the lightest one) is red paint, mixed with a tiny bit of yellow, and then lightened with white. 
I used a lot of that combo on this painting.

I painted on this canvas forever, tweaking it and blending it. Eventually, it got to a point where I really liked it.
This is another reason I love oil paint. You can keep playing with it for a lot longer than you would be able to if you were using acrylics. 

There are really no rules when it comes to making abstract art. 
My rule: If you love it, it's art.
I'm just a sloth painting and living in my bed, so my opinion may not carry all that much weight. But, just in case you were curious.  

Also, here are the Google image results for sloth
Just to hammer home how I'm feeling these days.

So, here's the finished product, still slightly wet.
I had to take it down temporarily after I photographed it today, just to avoid the inevitable curiosity that would've surely ended with pink paw prints all over my bedroom.

And a few close-ups... 
You can really see the effect the heavy structure gel has when mixed in with the paint.

Such a little beauty.
It's provided me with great joy during my time of need.
Almost as much joy as discovering this little gem while moving all of our stuff last month.
You don't know Jesse, so let's make this a bit more relatable: 
Imagine finding a book your husband wrote when he was five. 
And it's about his love for McGyver. 
And he draws himself with hair on his ears.

Mull that over and get back to me.

That's all for today, ya'll.
Thanks for being here.

I'll be back soon to share the hardwood floor reveal.

That's all for today! 'Til next time!
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  1. Thanks so much for linking back to me. Yours turned out great. Love the colors you chose!

    1. Thanks girl!! My pleasure! Thanks for inspiring me! xo

    2. Just found your wonderful blog and I love it! Please forgive me for mentioning one tiny imperfection amidst all the spell ya'll incorrectly. It's actually spelled y'all, since it's a contraction of the words you all.
      I really look forward to enjoying everything on your blog from now on, though...ya'll or no y'all! :)

  2. I love this! I consider myself to be pretty artsy-fartsy when it comes to DIY projects and whatnot but painting...painting is a totally different bear to me. I want to try this even though your curious roommates paw prints would probably do a better job than I :)

    1. I soooo agree! Art is always so much harder than just about any other project. I've made some AWFUL art in the past, so it's always nice when one turns out okay! :)

  3. It's gorgeous! Now I want one. And that urn. I need that urn!

  4. It is gorgeous. I love the soft colors and gold leaf really makes it pop !!!! I can't wait to try this. I have never used oil paints or the gel you mentioned. I hope mine does not end up looking like a 3 year old did it. I think I will really enjoy experimenting.

    Take care

    1. It's really hard to mess up, Debbie! I promise! If I can do it, you can, too. xo

  5. I've painted one painting in my life. That was about 2 years ago. It turned out OK but never gonna win an art contest ;-) Yours is quite lovely! (Just so ya know, I found a HUGE icky 1980's framed oil painting on canvas at the thrift store for $35. Painted over it with latex paint rolled on, then did a sort of impressionist scene. (Some guy out there's gonna wonder where his 'masterpiece' went. Too bad...It got covered up with mine. Hee hee!)

    1. Great idea, Connie! I've done that before, too. Many times, in fact! Sometimes repurposing a canvas in a great frame is cheaper than buying new!

  6. Beautiful, Virginia! I love gold leaf with contemporary abstract textural paintings. :)

  7. Well Virginia - you just have such a wonderful ability to take any situation and make something great out of it! During our exhaustive and exhausting home renovations a couple of years back (oops here comes the eczema back just remembering...) I did not have a single ounce of creative spirit left in my bones...and here you are creating something exquisite! You really are remarkable....big Kiwi ups to you for keeping hold of your true self and expressing it while things are so difficult.

    1. Thanks so much!! Anything to keep me busy while I wait for the floors to be finished! :)

  8. Really lovely. I think a large-scale version would be terrific on your stone fireplace. A juxtaposition of hard and soft, luxe and rustic.

    1. Thanks so much, Pamela! That's a fabulous idea!

  9. I love the painting Virginia. It´s gorgeous.. I love the color transition from dark to light.
    I´m not very good with a painters brush but something about this says maybe I should give it a try, hmmm

    1. Oh, you totally should! Seriously, I bet you can make something really beautiful if you try! xo

  10. Beautiful job! This is really inspiring. I need to just break down this summer and take that art class I've been meaning to take, so I feel comfortable enough with the supplies to even attempt this.

    Just so you know, if I saw this in the store, I would totally pay money for it. Hell, I'll buy this one off you, if you're selling it, lol.

    1. Lauren, you are too sweet. Thank you! I think if you just try it out, you'll see just how easy it is and realize you can totally do it! CAN do it. Swear. :)

  11. It turned out so pretty Virginia! Thanks for the link love too ;) xo Kristin

    1. Of course, girl!! Thanks so much for the inspiration! xo

  12. Beautiful job on the painting! I'm a painter myself, and it's nice to see others at work which gives me such inspiraton. Thanks for sharing, and BTW, you are my new go-to blog...

  13. I never knew that heavy structure gel product existed! I can't wait to find some and start mixing my paints with it :) Your artwork came out just beautifullllly!

    aka Bailey

    1. Thanks Bailey! Yes, you MUST try it! It makes all of my ameteur artwork look so much better! :)

  14. Your abstract art makes me happy! I will be doing this project ASAP! Great tutorial :)

  15. Mehhhh I miss you, please come back!!!

  16. I love this! I am currently in the process of making a bunch of abstract paintings for my house (the only kind I can since they are actually of nothing). I may have to try this for one of them!

  17. Just found your blog, I LOVE everything! I've been wanting to try gold leaf art for a while now and this post has motivated me to do it this weekend! Thanks for the super simplified tips!

  18. Very pretty! Thank you for sharing.

  19. I just shared your blog post on! It's such a great idea I just had to share it!!! :) xo

  20. Thanks for the inspiration Virginia... your post led me to create my own bright version (without gold leaf):

  21. Hi Virginia! I love the way your gold leaf art turned out. I never knew that you could use a simple glue stick. If I had only come across your blog before I bought an expensive bottle of special adhesive....oh well, live and learn, LOLOL! Love your sweet conversational quality!
    Vicki J.


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