Nancy Reyner: Gold leaf with Acrylic

Published on 06.03.2019 by Rachel

Here at Handover we are always curious about how people are using different materials which is why we were so excited to see Nancy Reyner's use of gold leaf in her paintings.

Tuscon mountain, acrylic/gold leaf/panel, 53” x 40”

Nancy Reyner is a painter, author, and teacher, and uses gold leaf to create luminous and ethereal paintings that are rooted in nature and landscape.

Predominantly using imitation gold leaf, Nancy layers, paints, and sands onto the panel to create an incredible amount of depth and texture into her art.

She offers some great advice on using gold leaf with both oil and acrylic as both require different approaches. Firstly, with acrylic Nancy says;

“Imitation leaf will tarnish two ways. It will tarnish when exposed to air, and also when exposed to the ammonia in acrylic products while the acrylic is still wet. Once the acrylic dries the ammonia has dissipated and will not tarnish your leaf. so, if you are applying acrylic paint over real gold leaf you can opt to wait to seal at the very end when your painting is complete. If you are using imitation gold leaf along with acrylic paint, you must seal it before you apply any acrylic paint or acrylic products over the leaf.”

Nancy’s process with acrylic involves adding paint and glazes in layers then sanding back and so she advises sealing the leaf surface first if you intend to do something similar as it protects the leaf from these abrasive techniques.

Dreaming Mountains, acylic/gold leaf/panel, 24" x 18"

In regards to using oil Nancy says;

“If you are overpainting the leaf with oil paint, you have a choice to 1) seal over the leaf before you apply your oil paint, or 2) apply oil paint over unsealed leaf, then varnish at the very end over both leaf and oil paint when dry. To seal the leaf before you apply oil paint, use a permanent or water-based sealer, as opposed to a solvent-based sealer. As a final varnish, over the leaf overpainted with oil paint, you can use Goldens Archival Varnish Gloss (or other removable archival solvent based varnishes) as a final finishing coat. If using imitation gold leaf then you must seal at some point within 6 months after application, so it will not tarnish from exposure to air. Avoid using water based sealers or water based adhesives over oil paint.”

Mt Fuji from Yamamota, acrylic/goldleaf/panel, 48" x 36"

When not painting Nancy dedicates a lot of her time to teaching and mentoring other artists, her website is full of useful tips and advice as well as free video tutorials and she has an online course available.

Visit Nancy Reyner’s website:

Or find her on social media:





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