image


Iridescent and metallic  Non color colors
Until recently artist's had few choices in regard to metallic and other effects where the color of the object is not just a conventional pigment color. Mica, seashells and ground quartz have ancient use especially in the Orient, but are only suited to water based techniques. Metals such as bronze and copper have been commonly available but they tend to darken quickly in oil and even more quickly in water based paints. Only gold  produced a pigment that was durable but expense is a problem.

Since the 1960's various micaceous, nacreous, interference, and iridescent pigments of great durability have been developed for the automotive industry. These are now available to the artist in pigment powder form.


Metals PM 1, PM 2, PM 3, etc.   ASTM - Not tested
Description
Copper, bronze and gold were joined in the 20th century by aluminum. All except gold are poor pigments with the ability to quickly tarnish and darken. On the other hand I have seen 500 year old watercolor made with gold pigment that seemed to be as shiny as the day it was put On. The incredible expense of this pigment always limited its use however, and even today it is rarely seen. Gold as a pigment has the color index name PM 3.

There are modern uses for metal based pigments that go beyond normal paint practice and can in some cases harm paint films so must be regarded as experimental. They can offer some special effects, however that cannot be duplicated any other way. Iron fillings or pigment particles can be added to paint. Acrylic is probably advisable here although oils may be necessary in many circumstances. The paint can then be treated with acidic liquids to promote rusting of the iron metal. abrading the surface first can vary this effect considerably. Similar patina type surface effects can be obtained by using copper or bronze pigments or filings. Extraordinarily beautiful effects can be built up with well thought out experiments. Do not forget safety issues whenever working with any acidic or alkaline materials.
Toxicity
Metals in powder form considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Oil based only for all metals except gold which should be useable in all media except Fresco, Pastels, and Chalk. All other usage is purely experimental.


Mica PW 20   ASTM - Not Tested
Description

Long used in the Orient for it peculiar qualities as a white it is not suitable for oil paint as it produces unstable paint films. It is commonly used in industrial water based paints as it imparts sparckle to the surface. Over recent years a micronized form has become available which is said to overcome the stability problems of the traditional mica pigments.
Toxicity
Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
 Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastels, Chalk.


Mica Titanate    ASTM - Not Tested
Description

A recent development, the Mica Titanates are micronised mica flakes coated in Titanium Dioxide. This pigment is in isolation white but manufacturers add various transparent pigments to the pigment mixture and a wide range of metallic colors result from gold and copper to silver and pewter. The colors appear to be highly light fast and are useable in all media

Interference colors
A variation is to vary the size of the mica flakes so that color is produced by diffraction much like the iridescent colors in shells, butterflies, and some birds feathers These pigments are called interference colors and come im a limited range of colors that are suitable for glazing over other colors to get natural iridescent effects.

Pearlescent, nacreous, and iridescent pigments
These too are variations on the Mica Titanates that give pearl like effects of great durability. There are iridescent mediums available in acrylics that can be used to make any pigment into an iridescent color.
Toxicity
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastels, Chalk.



Go to pigment main page

Go to White pigments

Go to Yellow pigments

Go to Orange pigments


Go to Brown pigments

Go to Green pigments

Go to Blue pigments


Go to Violet pigments

Go to Black pigments

Go to Historic pigments

Go to Inert pigments

Go to Red pigments

Go to Miscellaneous pigments

References
Alberti, L B,    On Painting    1435 (Penguin Classics)
Cellini, B,    The Life Of Benvenuto Cellini,    finished 1562 but not published until 1730 (Heron)
Cennini, C d'A,    The Craftsman's Handbook.    1437 (Dover)
Doerner, M,    The Materials Of The Artist And Their Use In Painting,    1921 (Harcourt Brace)
Eastlake, Sir C L,    Materials For A History Of Oil Painting,    1847 (Dover)
Feller, R L,    Artists Pigments    1986 (National Gallery Of Art / Cambridge University)
Gettens, R J, and Stout, G L,      Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia,      1942 (Dover)
Gottsegen, M D,    A Manual Of Painting Materials And Techniques,    1987 (Harper & Row)
Maire, F,    Colors: What They Are And What To Expect Of Them,    1910 (Drake)
Mayer, R,   The Artists Handbook Of Materials And Techniques,    fifth edition 1991  (Faber & Faber)
Merrifield, Mrs. M P,    Medieval And Renaissance Treatises On The Arts Of Painting    1849 (Dover)
Muther, R,    The History Of Painting From The Fourth Century To The Early Nineteenth Century,    1907 (Putnam)
Parkhurst, D B,    The Painter In Oil   1898 (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard)
Patton, T C,    Pigment Handbook,    1973 (Wiley)
Porter, N      Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary,      1913 (Merriam)
Pliny, The Elder (Gaius Plinius),    Natural History,    77 AD (Penguin Classics)
Roy, A      Artist's Pigments: A Handbook Of Their History And Characteristics,      1994 (Oxford University Press)
Taubs, F,    A Guide To Traditional And Modern Painting Methods,    1963 (Thames & Hudson)
Theophilus,   On Divers Arts,    1125 (Dover)
Various,    Encyclopedia Britannica,    fifteenth edition 1981  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc)
Various,    Paint And Painting,   1982,  (Winsor & Newton / The Tate Gallery)
Various,    The Artist's Colormen's Story,    1984 (Winsor & Newton)
Vasari, G,   The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors And Architects,    1568 (Penguin Classics)


Internet Resources  |  imageContact  | image Frequently Asked Questionsimage