The Fine Art of Gilding is the process of affixing tissue-thin sheets of precious or common metals to a carefully prepared surface using a special adhesive size to create a lustrous metallic finish. Gilding is an ancient craft that dates back to Egyptian and Biblical times. Gilding was very popular in Italy during the middle ages, until the late Renaissance. It was used to highlight religious paintings and carvings. In the world of art today crafters use gilding typically as a decorative adornment for furnishings and craft related items.
Ms Cutler chose to use gilding in her painting after a visit to the Louvre in Paris. Her favorite galley contained the religious art of the Italian Renaissances period. She was fascinated with the use of metal leaf in their work. They used it not only as a form of showing the divine, but it was also used on garments in the paintings. This is where she first discovered her love for this art form. She marveled at its illusional effect of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. After returning home she began to learn all she could about gilding and the materials needed. She decided to use metal leaf in her paintings to enhance and highlight the illusion of simplistic grandeur. Ms Cutler works with several different types of metal leaf: 21 and 23 kt. gold, white gold, copper and variegated metal leaf. The variegated leaf is one of her favorite metals. It is a heat-treated composition that creates colorful patterns on the surface of the metal. You will see this metal in quite a few of Ms. Cutler’s paintings. She discontinued the use of sterling silver metal in her painting because it tarnished, and exchanged it with white gold.
Ms. Cutler designs her gowns and robed with a sense of delicate elegance, glamor and sophistication that is reminiscent of times past when women enjoyed being graceful. “I fear that someday this type of beauty and elegance will no longer exist even in our minds if we do not embrace and preserve it. I believe we can combine the past and present in a way that will create harmony, and paintings that are visually pleasing to the viewer.”
In her paintings Ms. Cutler uses two forms of acrylic mediums: a liquid acrylic, which is a fluid version of acrylic having the consistency of ink that produces some amazing iridescent colors, and a more concentrated condensed acrylic. She also uses ink instead of water along with her acrylic to eliminate water’s diluting effects on the colors. She chose watercolor paper for its texture, surface and durability. Unlike canvas, watercolor paper creates the illusion of delicacy that works well with her painting style. She did however experience some degree of difficulty when applying metal leaf to the surface of the watercolor paper because of its absorbency. Through trail and error, she finally came up with a solution that worked.
She purposely leaves out the face. “I find faces irrelevant to this work. They would only add complications for the viewer. As with my paintings my sculptures are meant to be enjoyed in their entirety, from the form out not just for the sake of a face.” Ms. Cutler ideas and style references are often from her own imagination: old photos that she has purchased at estate sales or flea markets, late European masters and the Asian culture. “I find this eclectic blend of cultures and form fascinatingly refreshing.” She leaves the negative space in her painting to their own devices to form as they please. “I find when left alone they create a nice sense of balance giving the viewer a place to find calm and rest. It’s like having a place to lay ones head.”