Silver painting – Work in progress

In the fall I was out in Canmore and after my best friend ‘dragged’ me into an art gallery, I couldn’t help but purchase a beautiful painting from The Avens Gallery.

Can't Stop It on display in the window at the Avens Gallery.

Can’t Stop It on display in the window at the Avens Gallery.

The painting is called “Can’t Stop It” and it’s by a local Southern Alberta oil artist, David Zimmerman.

(I also totally loved Jo Ludwig’s glass vessels  which were on the ledge below – but they might just have to wait before joining my art collection!) 

The gallery staff explained that David started with a layer of real silver and gold leaf under his oil paintings, which brings an extraordinary shimmer and shine – a sense of brightness and light behind the colours. They also explained that the painting was coated/sealed with a clear ‘resin’ which would not yellow or crack with age, but left a smooth, glossy, highly-reflective finish. (Which really shows off the shimmer and light behind the colours.)  I was totally in love with the painting, and right now it’s hanging up proudly in my living/dining room.  (If only I had better lighting set up to show it off!)


Of course, I loved the look of the painting, and thought that perhaps I might give the technique a try.

Step 1 – applying the foil

The first canvas

I had two canvases (which I had actually planned on using for something else…) and the first I prepared by underpainting with black. I don’t work with oils, so I used acrylics…

Once the paint was dry, I roughly sketched out the basic outline of what I wanted to paint, and then coated the canvas with glue where I wanted the foil, and then applied the foil mostly according to the instructions.  (The shop where I bought the foil didn’t have any specific foil adhesive or sealer, so I had to improvise.)

Foil applied to the first canvas over the black underpainting

Foil applied to the first canvas over the black underpainting

I waited overnight, and then brushed off the loose silver leaf, and then put a glossy acrylic medium over the foil to seal it, ready for the painting I’ll be doing next.  The medium didn’t work as I thought it would – it puddled on top of the foil, since the foil isn’t absorbant in any way.

acrylic medium puddling  up on top of the foil

acrylic medium puddling up on top of the foil

The second canvas

The second canvas I underpainted with blue and red for a different painting.  Rather than waiting for it to dry and then coating the canvas with glue… I thought I was being clever, and applied the foil to the wet paint.  This really wasn’t a good idea, because the paint took a LOT longer to dry – and I started touching it too soon, breaking the foil.

foil applied to the red and blue painted canvas

foil applied to the red and blue painted canvas

The third canvas

Since the paint-as-glue technique didn’t seem to be working, I went out to a different shop and picked up the foil adhesive (which has a REALLY long ‘wet’ time and stays tacky forever!) and the foil sealer. I took my third canvas, painted it black like the first one, then applied the adhesive. When it was tacky (within half an hour) I carefully (way more carefully than the previous two attempts) applied the foil to the areas I wanted foiled.

Step 2 – Painting

The third canvas

Silver painting work in progress

Silver painting work-in-progress

Here’s the painting as a work-in-progress, where I have painted in the foreground hill, the background rock wall, the background trees, and the foreground tree. I love that in the photo you can even see the shine of the foil through the blue paints – though the colours aren’t as intense as I would like… This might require more work (on another painting…!)

6 comments on “Silver painting – Work in progress

  1. Baudoin says:

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further post thank you once again.

    • Dawn says:

      Thanks! I have posted some of the follow ups, though honestly I’m taking a break from painting right now… (though there are some more art posts in my queue!)

  2. Matt says:

    Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.

  3. Ahn says:

    Excellent post. Keep posting such kind of information on your page. Im really impressed by it.

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