Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lights in the Darkness: Fluorescent Paints

Every so often, I get these ideas for things I could try that might broaden my appeal as an artist to more collectors. The latest thought: blacklight paintings.

UV,ultraviolet,blacklight,black light,fluorescent,paint,paints
Photo by (Colorful, huh?)

I've actually messed around with blacklight paintings years ago, in the early 1970s, I'd say. In fact, my first "real" painting was an apocalyptic vision with a setting sun. The painting was done in traditional acrylic paints, but the sun was finished in fluorescent red -- I wanted the sun to "pop." (I think I still have this painting, stashed away in a box in the garage).

Then I did a series of paintings in which I mixed fluorescent blue with normal white paint. I used this for sky color -- in normal room lighting, the sky was light blue, but under a UV lamp, the sky glowed a dark blue, muted by the non-fluorescent white that was added to the ultraviolet-sensitive blue. Thus, the paintings were "2-in-1" -- daytime scenes under room lights, nighttime scenes by blacklight.

I was never interested in the psychedelic LSD look of blacklight posters of the late 60s/early 70s. I believe some serious art could be made with fluorescent paints. Except for one problem:

Fluorescent paint isn't archival. UV radiation breaks the chemical bonds that form the fluorescent minerals, resulting in products that don't light up under blacklight. I'm not sure the paints last very long even when exposed to daylight coming in through windows or artificial lights at night. I'd hate to invest a lot of time and effort into works that could fade or change color within just a few years.

So -- if I proceed with the bunch of fluorescent paints I ordered, I'll have to make sure the paintings I make are fast and easy to do and placed in inexpensive frames, so I won't need to ask a lot of money for the pieces. The artwork would be original "posters" that may not be around in 25 years (probably much less).

We'll see what I come up with!

No comments: