Pearls & butterflies – comparing interference and iridescent paints

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Pearls & butterflies – comparing interference and iridescent paints

Pearls & butterflies – comparing interference and iridescent paints

In my last blog posting, I had created colour sampler pages for all of my liquid and soft body paints, and organized them into a scrapbook binder for easy reference.  I wanted to do the same thing for my iridescent, metallic and interference paints.  Interference paints are interesting – they refract their opposite on the colour wheel.  For example interference red shows a green sheen, and interference blue has a golden sheen to it.  But you only get these special effects if the interference paint is over top of a dark colour, such as black.  So in order to create my base paper strips, I needed to use a monochrome palette from white to black.  I also wanted to see how these paints behaved over texture, both implied and tactile.

Combining super heavy gesso with black gesso to create a neutral-toned grey textural gesso paste.

Combining super heavy gesso with black gesso to create a neutral-toned grey textural gesso paste.

I divided watercolour paper into half, and painted white gesso on side, and black gesso on the other.  Next, I choose the thickest consistency of gesso I had (similar to smooth peanut butter), and combined it with black gesso (consistency of thick cream) to create a thick grey gesso.

The consistency of the two gessos are very different – the super heavy gesso is like peanut butter and the black gesso is like heavy cream.

The consistency of the two gessos are very different – the super heavy gesso is like peanut butter and the black gesso is like heavy cream.

Using a palette knife to mix the two gessos into a uniform colour.

Using a palette knife to mix the two gessos into a uniform colour.

Using the thick grey gesso, I use a natural sea sponge to pounce the gesso between the dividing line between the white and black gesso.  This created a great visual texture, but not a much of a raised texture.

A natural sea sponge is used to pounce the thick grey gesso between the black and white gesso stripes.

A natural sea sponge is used to pounce the thick grey gesso between the black and white gesso stripes.

Next, I choose a stencil that had a nice organic random pattern of pebbles in it.  The stencil is 6 x 6 inches, so I needed to move it in order to cover the entire sheet with pattern.  I used a palette knife to carefully drag the grey gesso through the stencil holes.

The pounced sponge pattern gives a good tonal variety, but not enough raised texture.  A stencil with a pebble pattern is selected for the texture template.

The pounced sponge pattern gives a good tonal variety, but not enough raised texture. A stencil with a pebble pattern is selected for the texture template.

Using a palette knife, the thick grey gesso is dragged through the stencil, down the middle of the prepared sheet.

Using a palette knife, the thick grey gesso is dragged through the stencil, down the middle of the prepared sheet.

The thick grey gesso created a great tactile texture showing the pebble pattern from the stencil extremely well.  You can see the actual ‘gesso pebbles’ in the close-up and how they are raised above the paper surface.  If some gesso got underneath the stencil, a web-like pattern was created from the gesso sticking to the stencil as it was lifted off the paper.  This was left to dry overnight due to the thickness of the gesso.

Complete stenciled pattern of pebbles in thick grey gesso on the gessoed paper.

Complete stenciled pattern of pebbles in thick grey gesso on the gessoed paper.

Close-up of thick grey gesso texture from being pushed through the stencil onto the paper.

Close-up of thick grey gesso texture from being pushed through the stencil onto the paper.

The dry gessoed paper was dividing into one-inch strips, each one containing the white to black gradation and these were cut into thin strips with a paper cutter.

Gessoed paper sheets are marked into 1-inch stripes and a paper cutter is used to cut the strips, with light to dark patterns on each one.

Gessoed paper sheets are marked into 1-inch stripes and a paper cutter is used to cut the strips, with light to dark patterns on each one.

I gathered all of my interference, iridescent and metallic paints (both liquid and soft body paints), and organized them by name and brand on a spreadsheet.

Iridescent, interference and metallic paints are lined up and named on a spreadsheet in order to keep track of each paint colour sample.

Iridescent, interference and metallic paints are lined up and named on a spreadsheet in order to keep track of each paint colour sample.

After all the strips had been painted, their name label was glued on and the strips were organized into colour families.  Blue decorators tape was used to align the strips into 9 x 12 inch sheets.

Painted colour strips are organized into colour families and labelled on the reverse.

Painted colour strips are organized into colour families and labelled on the reverse.

These sheets were put into 12 x 12 inch scrapbook page protectors and then stored in a large three-ring binder.  The interference paints were only visible over the grey textured and black gessoed areas, whereas the iridescent and metallic paints were visible over the white gesso.

The colour family sheets are put into scrapbook 12 x 12 page protectors and kept in a three-ring binder for easy reference.

The colour family sheets are put into scrapbook 12 x 12 page protectors and kept in a three-ring binder for easy reference.

These paint sampler strips are a great visual reference so you can see how the paints behave over light and dark paints, and areas of texture.