Sandy watercolorist adds gold to her paintings, making it unique and elegant

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Edna Kennel, a watercolor artist from Sandy holds a painting she calls Marsh Dwellers, showing red-winged blackbirds roosting on marsh grass that have stems and narrow leaves gilded with faux gold leaf. POST PHOTO: JIM HART Gilded art has been used for years to make something seem more elegant, more valuable, more distinctive.

Although it can become expensive if an artist is using 24-carat gold leaf, this unusual medium does transform any art piece into a conversation piece.

A far cry from the Aztec art made from pure gold, today’s gilding simply puts a thin layer of gold leaf in preselected places for a specific effect.

Edna Kennel, a watercolor artist from Sandy, will present a program on gold art at the next meeting of the Wy’east Artisans Guild, which is open to non-members and members.

Kennel’s topic and demonstration is about gold-leaf art, which makes her watercolor paintings unique.

Gold leaf, she says, is usually applied to oil or acrylic paintings, and requires some special procedures to make a successful application to watercolor paper.

She will talk briefly about the history of gold leaf, and then go through the five steps required to make gold — whether 24 carat or faux — adhere to the painting’s surface.

Kennel intends to show how she masks areas of a painting with clear plastic, with cut-out areas, allowing the gold to be applied only in the exact areas desired.

“Gold is very hard to handle,” Kennel said. “It flies away like feathers.”

That’s why she will discuss some of the techniques that make this practice easier.

The reason an artist might have for applying gold leaf to a painting, Kennel said, could be to add a little artistic touch; it could be part of the design; or it could make an image more eye-catching or elegant.

Kennel, who often uses faux gold, also will show a procedure that seals the faux gold from oxygen in the air to prevent it from tarnishing over time. But 24-carat gold, she says, doesn’t tarnish.

She will bring several paintings to the meeting to show what a finished painting looks like after treatment with gold leaf.

Kennel said she studied the procedures under teacher Judy Morris at the Sitka Center in Neskowin.

But she has been painting since she was a child, earning exhibit awards in every decade since the 1950s. Her studies have been in Oregon, North Carolina, California, Washington, New York, Georgia and Italy.

While most of her work has been commissioned in the United States, Canada and France, she does have some art on exhibit in Newport.

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting, whether a member or not, according to a spokesperson for the artist group.

The meeting of the Wy’east Artisans Guild will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 11, at the Clackamas County Bank, 38975 Proctor Blvd. Enter the doors west of the bank’s main door.

For more information, call 503-708-9065.

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