Year of the Rabbit with 4 Radiant Metal Leaf Colours

Year of the rabbit art journal page with metal leaf
Shiny bunnies
2023 is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit so I’ve made another art journal page following on from my ‘Year of the Tiger’ page last year.

I love doing art journal pages of the Chinese zodiac as it is animal based and there is lots of colour and nature symbolism. The rabbit is 4th of 12 animal signs and the story of creation tells how he would have been first if he hadn’t gone to have a nap while the first 3 arrived.

Year of the Rabbit Symbolism

The element associated with the year of the rabbit in 2023 is water and rabbits are always associated with Yin (yin/yang). Looking into the colours associated with the rabbit the lucky colours are pink, red, purple and blue. Unlucky colours for rabbits being dark yellow, dark brown and white. The rabbit is also said to symbolise the moon.

Year of the Rabbit Graphical Rendering

The colour symbolism of the rabbit zodiac sign gave me an idea for my page as these colours can work as hot/cold colours for suggesting form if working graphically. Red and pink would be hot colours while purple and blue would be cold. I chose to work in metal having mistakenly thought of the rabbit as associated with metal this year but that would have been the last Year of the Rabbit in 2011. The association of the elements with the zodiac signs can be quite complicated and on some sites the 2023 rabbit is described as associated with wood and having water as its complimentary element. Well I had decided on metal leaf for this art journal page which would give a very graphical look so on I went …

Making my Year of the Rabbit Art Journal Page

As I had decided to work with metal leaf for this page, gouache was a good compliment as it has a matt finish and is less likely for the leaf to adhere itself to. I started by sketching out my outlines with Neocolour crayons.

I used these to colour code the art so when I came to metal leafing it was easier to see where to put the different colours of metal leaf. Next I added gouache to the background, filling in the moon, sky and ground. I was fairly limited by the metal leaf colours in my pack and my ‘purple’ is more on the pinky side than I would have selected. Then it was time to foil and I started with the red using a gilding adhesive that needs 15 minutes to go tacky before applying the leaf. It actually took a bit longer because of the cold. The whole process can be messy but stray leaf is easily cleaned up at the end with a baby wipe over the adhered leaf, leaving a nice graphic image. After I had applied all the colours of leaf and cleaned up a bit I retouched the gouache background and added the title – 2023. I embellished the ‘sky’ with stars and sparkles for the title and added a sparkle to the rabbit eyes.

Video Process of Year of the Rabbit Art Journal Page with Metal Leaf

Below is a video (also available on YouTube) of my process. It has been edited to show the techniques and main sections of the process rather than the whole thing which would be time consuming. I hope it gives you all the information you need to try out the techniques yourself and maybe experiment with different ways of doing them.

I hope this has been interesting and maybe inspires you to have a go with metal leaf or working graphically and maybe research the Chinese zodiac. Best wishes and hugs, Ceri xx

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