I haven’t done it in quite some time, but I have used metal leaf, usually gold or copper, several times in my work over the years. There is something about using the leaf in a work that transforms a simple composition into one that has greater depth and weight. This is always surprising to me because the leaf itself flattens the picture plane. Maybe we have some innate elemental response to the qualities of the metal leaf, its richness and sheen, that goes back through the ages to a time when the use of luxurious metals was the province of sacred art and artifacts. I know that always comes to my mind when I see metal leaf used in artwork. I find myself considering the work in a different , more reverential, manner, as though I were considering a religious icon. I suppose that is why I always describe this work with that term, icon.
While I try not to use leaf too often in my work, there are two such pieces in this years show at the West End Gallery, which opens this coming Friday, July 26. Both are small pieces on paper, both with copper leaf. I find the warmth of copper leaf appealing and more in line with this work. The compositions are quiet and very simple , allowing the central figure of the Red Tree to stand starkly against the elegant weight of the copper. This juxtaposition without a lot of additional elements and detail allows the tree and the copper leaf to shine in harmony.
The piece shown above, an 8″ by 8″ image, is simply titled Icon on Copper . The painting here on the left is a bit smaller at 4′ by 6.5″ and is also simply titled Under a Copper Sky. They are both at the gallery now for the show, Islander, which runs until August 30.