Tuesday, 14 February 2012

How do I Make Gold Look like Gold with Oil Paint?

The artist trying to convey metallic effects with oil paint may be disappointed if brass ornaments or gold jewellery resembles dollops of mustard in the still life painting. How can the artist get gold effects in painting?

Problems with Painting Gold Jewellery

How to Paint Gold
A still life setting featuring gold objects such as jewellery may appear tarnished or plastic-like due to misconceptions about the colour gold, causing the artist to use a lot of yellow, orange or ochres. Such idealistic concepts about the colour gold may be indicative by the following notions and practices.
  • Having the subconscious idea that all gold is basically yellow, yellow-orange or ochre.
  • Reaching for any yellow pigment at hand for mixing gold colours.
  • Darkening yellow with black or dark brown to achieve dark tones in gold.
  • Mixing white with yellow to represent highlights in gold.
  • Giving sharp outlines to gold objects with the aim of making them stand out, resulting in a cutout appearance.
  • Using bright colours throughout the gold object such as yellows, oranges and ochres with the aim of conveying brilliance.
  • Going overboard with white highlights to imply sheen.
  • Applying gold metallic paint designed for gilt onto the gold objects in the still life.
Oil Painting Techniques for Gold

In order to make gold look authentic, the artist must forget about gold’s ‘local’ colour (yellow-brown), and instead think about how gold actually looks. A bright-coloured object does not necessary exclusively comprise bright colours. In fact, the secret to recreating the brilliance of gold lies in juxtaposing bright colours against sombre hues. Gold can contain such dour colours as dark green, dark grey or midnight blue.

Try not to get visually railroaded by bright colours, particularly yellow. Seek out neutrals and sombre colours within the gold objects. Highlights in gold seldom contain yellow, but cool pales such as powder-blue, eggshell or light grey. Only the smallest amounts of neat white (or yellow, if it can be perceived) are often needed to illustrate highlights in gold.

Look for opposing colours in the gold object; in the case of yellow or orange this will be any colour in the blue spectrum; violet, azure or indigo. Similarly, look for cool neutrals.

Look for unlikely colours in the gold object. I have often seen olive green, mauve and indigo in gold objects. Under certain lighting conditions, gold objects may exhibit no yellow, orange or ochre whatsoever. Believe what the eye sees as opposed to reaching for yellow, orange or ochre by automation.

Mixing Gold Colours in Oils

Prior to embarking upon a painting featuring bright objects such as gold, apply a neutral-coloured underglaze onto the art surface. Applying a bright or light colour straight onto a white art surface will make the colour appear darker than it actually is.

Before applying the bright colours or highlights, look for sombre colours in gold. This means neutrals, greys blue-greys and blue-greens. Similarly, look for cool colours within the highlights.

Look for definite hues in darks, such as blues and violets. Don’t darken the colour of gold by a mixture of yellow/orange and black, as this will result in dirty colours.

Don’t overdo it with bright colours, for yellows, oranges and ochres will often exhibit a modest ratio of the gold object. Even the smallest flecks of bright colours and highlights will provide great focal points for the gold object.

Apply the highlights and the brightest colours last. I will apply the paint thickly in these areas to make the highlights stand out from the art surface.

What Colour is Gold?

The following colour mixtures are ideal for capturing gold jewellery, ornaments or artifacts, although other colours can be seen. Remember to keep looking.
  • Warm highlights: white with a dab of burnt sienna. A smidgen of cadmium yellow can be added if a yellowish hue is apparent.
  • Cool highlights: white with a dab of ultramarine and burnt umber.
  • Warm mid-tones: burnt sienna, a little cadmium red and white.
  • Cool mid-tones: burnt umber, a little ultramarine and white.
  • Warm darks: burnt sienna and ultramarine. A little cadmium yellow can be added for an additional yellow cast.
  • Cool darks: Burnt umber and ultramarine. For extra depth, a little pthalo blue and permanent rose can be added.
Art Techniques for Painting Gold

Glazing is an ideal art technique for achieving smooth, metallic effects in oil paint. Glazing entails applying a thin, translucent layer of oil paint and working on top once the glaze is dry. Soft sable brushes and any oil medium, such as linseed oil or Liquin can be used to thin the paint into glazes. Once mixed into a translucent consistency, apply the paint for an effect like tinted glass.

Strategic use of impasto can also be used to make highlights stand out literally from the art surface. I do this by applying white neat from the tube.

Working dark to light will increase visual awareness of tones and bright colours found in gold. Sketch the composition via chalk onto a black art surface which has been overlaid with black acrylic paint (or a very dark colour). Apply the dark tones first off, working to the mid-tones, then to the light tones and finally the highlights.

How to Paint Gold Objects in Oils

Rendering gold objects convincingly entails discarding preconceived notions that gold contains lots of yellow and plenty of highlights. Using gold paint will only give a dirty yellow appearance if there are not reflections. Gold in fact can contain lots of sombre hues, even in highlights, which can be blues, greys, ochres and violets. Use bright colours sparingly and don’t overdo the highlights. Dong so will only make the gold object look more like costume jewellery. The secret is to pay extra notice to neutrals and sombre hues before the bright colours and highlights.

Tips on Oil Painting Techniques

How to make glass look like glass
My silver objects look like lead
Why are my colour mixes dirty?
All about oil painting mediums
Glechniques in oils
Demonstration on painting toys

4 comments:

my thoughts... said...

Hello,
I'm Vishal Oswal from India. This is a nice blog and realised many new ways for making gold ornaments more realistic and modern. Can I get you consultancy and guide for my business. I'm designer for gold ornaments and thinking of using painting over gold ornaments.
Thank you,
Vishal

Shilpa Raj said...

your blog is quite helpful .. brilliant .. hope you continue:)

Rachel said...

Hi Shilpa
Thank you for your kind comment. Glad you found my blog helpful!

James Stewart said...

Very detailed good information