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Impressionist Gold Leaf Oil Paintings By Amanda Johnson, Key West, Florida.

Published February 12, 2022

The Gold Leaf Oil Painting Technique By Amanda Johnson


The gold leaf oil painting technique is very unique because the gold leaf material is carefully applied to the canvas surface in the early stages of preparing the painting.

The gold leaf provides a reflective and metallic background which catches the light and adds a whole new element of brilliance and dimension to the painting.

The final result is a painting that is creative, contemporary, and beautiful.

In this post, I will share with you the gold leaf process in more detail, I hope you enjoy it!


Step 1: Prepare The Canvas

First, I start with a blank white canvas and paint the background with diluted paint. This process is called Imprimatura which means “first paint layer” in Italian. Then, I begin all my paintings with the imprimatura background layer.

Imprimatura is a thin, translucent layer of colour applied to the ground before painting on it. The imprimatura reduces the absorbency of the ground and is sometimes used as a middle tone for the painting itself.

Step 2: Applying The Adhesive

I use adhesive from Golden Leaf Products based out of Oceanside, California. They supply genuine gold, silver, copper and palladium leaf, as well as imitation gold, silver and variegated leaf. They have all the products and tools to bring your gold leaf painting to fuition.

The adhesive is a lightweight clear substance that I brush onto the surface. It remains wet for 24 hours then this allows me the time I need to apply the gold leaf to the canvas surface.

Step 3: Applying The Gold Leaf

There are many approaches to applying the gold leaf, depending your desired outcome. For me, I am interested in creating areas that I intend to keep unpainted. In other words, I only want the gold leaf applied to areas that I think will be showing after the painting is completed.

My painting style is impressionism. It is expressive and has a lot of movement so it makes sense to apply the gold leaf with the same artistic approach.

The application of the delicate gold leaf is a bit rugged and I apply it quickly, leaving some open spaces where the imprimatura is showing. The wrinkles, tears, and gaps in the squares adds another level of character to the painting.

Step 4: Sealing The Gold Leaf

As I mentioned, I use gold leaf and sealant from Golden Leaf Products from Oceanside, California.

After the gold leaf has been applied to the surface it is time to seal the gold leaf. The clear seal will prevent the gold leaf from oxidization and tarnishing. It also provides a protective layer from being torn or scratched.

The sealing process will also create uniformity on the surface by adhering it tightly to the canvas, thereby giving the gold leaf a smooth polished look and shine. The gold leaf is so fine that it will easily adhere to the surface texture of the canvas.

The fine gold leaf conforms to the texture of the canvas.

Step 5: Ready To Paint

This is how the beautiful gold leaf paintings are created!

Gold Leaf Coconuts #4
24 x 48 x 1.5 Inches
Media: Gold leaf and oil paint on canvas
By Amanda Johnson, Key West, Florida