Sterling Silver and 24Kt Gold

I have had a lot of response come in about the use of 24 karat gold and sterling silver in my work recently.  Unfortunately, because of the volume of questions, I have been unable to answer them individually.   Hopefully this answers any curiosities people may have about the subject.Gold with brush on palette thinned for use.

What do you mean when one of your paintings is labelled “with sterling silver and/or 24 Kt gold?”
Basically, it is ground sterling silver (or gold) into a fine powder to form a ‘pigment’. It is then mixed with a binder, gum arabic like usual watercolors are, and dried to form a tablet cake (so technically this would be watercolor).  When needed, the tablet is wet to reconstitute the silver paint, and then can be used as paint in art.  Used this way it is often called shell gold or shell silver – when used in earlier times, the metal paint was poured into a small shell to be used as a paint dish, thus the name.

Is this something new?
Not really. Pure silver and gold have been used in illuminated manuscript miniatures for centuries. Personally, I find these works of art fascinating, and as such they have found a place of influence on my work. I love the added zest a hint of silver or gold adds to a piece, as well as how it carries on a tradition that has such a rich history.

How long have you been using this in your painting?
I started around 2006-2007.  It was an experiment in a selection of pieces at that point after running across many illuminated manuscripts that inspired me.  More recently, as I have gotten more familiar with it’s use, I’ve included the gold and silver in my work more regularly.

Applying gold to a painting.  Shimmers of silver can be seen at this angle as well in the feathers and eye of the owl.How is it used in your painting?
I like to be delicate with it. I might accent areas, edges, or glaze – it truly depends on the work and where I want to lead the observer’s eye through that particular painting.  Sometimes the shimmer is picked up in a scan of the original, sometimes not – so it may not be visible to those only viewing an image online or in print.  As was the case in the miniatures of illuminated manuscripts, if shell gold (or silver for that matter) is overused it could spoil the picture in the final stages, and I find it is the same using it with more modern works.

Do you use gold leaf in your paintings too?
At this point I haven’t. I don’t rule out the possibility in the future, but for now I am focusing my work on softness and/or subtle hues for the most part.  Being that large areas of gold would have a strong presence in a painting, I have not pursued that medium.

Do you use Silver Point, etc in your work?
No, at this time I have not.  I prefer light graphite or drawing with paint.


Some links that may be of interest on the topic:


12 Responses to “Sterling Silver and 24Kt Gold”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Sandy says:

    Wonderful article, thanks for the info xx

  2. Ben Bensen says:

    Though small, you work is very detailed and refined. You definitely have a unique style…with or without the use of gold or silver.

  3. Billie Sue Palmer says:

    Hello, I absolutely love your work!! I am looking for someone to illustrate a children’s book and would love to have you or some member of your family do it for me. It is about 10 pages long with each turn of the page is a double image. (that sounds odd, but hopefully you will know what I am talking about.) I need sweet happy animals and children playing. It is written in 3 languages English, Spanish, and Chinese. If This is something you might consider, please email me @ and I will give you more information. Are you from the Frederickburg, Texas area? Billie Sue Palmer

  4. Robert Kane says:

    Any chance of some lessons? Or a Comission?

    • Rebecca says:

      I don’t teach lessons right now, but I accept limited commissions. Prices are listed here, and you can contact me about scheduling/reference needed.

      • Dear Rebecca,
        l am to be able to write a few lines, well to begin with you are a highly skilled and amazing Artist with Blessed Hands by the Almighty and the patience in capturing your subjects so near to real life that a point comes where your work speaks honestly, l am a great fan of your works and myself being an Artist you do really inspire me alot Thanks for your inspiring works l really look forward in viewing more and more of your masterpieces in the days to come. Would like to invite you to Nepal the land of mystry with alot of wild life to paint, well you have a friend and a home in kathmandu nepal and you are more than welcome friend, my mob no 00977 9851135448 would love to be in touch thanks.
        kind regards
        David Douglas

  5. Kerry says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Can you please tell me where you get the Gold/ Silver from.

    Thanks. Kerry..

  6. Karen Mitchell says:

    I’m chasing some Shell Gold. Where can I get my hands on some. I’m in Australia and I’ve emailed all the art supplies asking them if they can get some in for me. Do you have any links you can pass onto me.
    Thank you

  7. Janet Rectenwald says:


    Do you use white watercolor for your paintings?


  8. Richard Theissen says:

    Thanks so much for that information Rebecca!! I ‘m an artist myself, and always in awe of extreme detail, and rich colored works such as what you create!

  9. Barbara says:

    Your artwork is so full of heart.
    Simply wonderful light, form, textures and love.
    I have been in deep grief from death and have stagnated,,
    I feel new life coming back from looking at your art.
    I am re-inspired by your art.
    Please don’t ever doubt your gift. Keep making your art.