Interference Paints and Alchemical Acrylics

In my last Saltworkstudio class we experimented with interference colors.  Painters are often suspicious of these paints, harboring a worried feeling that incorporating them is the equivalent of a child dumping a mound of red glitter on Mom’s homemade Christmas card, an instantaneous road to kitschy work.  They do have that same quality of toylike holographic change as you shift angles, like Jesus’ eyes opening and closing as you move the 3-D postcard: unnerving and  miraculous. Interference colors are the colors of outer space, in a sense anti-colors, because the show up only by floating on a dark background. Think nebulas, deep space, and the formless cloud Captain Kirk sees pulsing on the galactic horizon.

 On a white surface, they virtually disappear. Nancy Reyner does large-scale, moving abstracted landscapes with layers and layers of them.  If you can make a “value” painting, that is, a black-grey-white grisaille or painted cartoon that has large areas of darker background, you can use them for mystery and emphasis.  They have that phantom quality: like ghosts, they can barely be photographed.  Like ghosts, you have to see them to believe them.  I

Daniel Smith has always excelled with iridescent, interference, and their own Duochrome line.  I particularly loved the Interference Gold and Copper over black.  The colors are sophisticated neutrals with that alchemical edge.  Scratching into them to reveal the black underneath with heiroglyphic marks made me feel like I was creating texts and tablets from a lost continent.  For strange landscapes, I think Daniel Smith’s color Iridescent Topaz is amazing… a sort of tarnished gold over soft grass green.  And I love the Duochrome Electric Blue… a startling shade that can be used for sky or a bird’s wing or for the brush of thought through the space of a mind.Paint an anti-landscape or a stellar event or decorate your dark-surfaced mood. For more interference paintings, visit and see class and event photos.