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Luminescent and fluorescent mediums in art

Updated on December 5, 2016
jbosh1972 profile image

I work in metal. I love abstract metal art. I am an avid learner and always growing.

whimsicle neon cocktail glass
whimsicle neon cocktail glass | Source

The Magic of fluorescent paint

Ever since I can remember growing up in the 1970s and 1980s,black-light fluorescent colors always brought a sense of excitement to me. The various vivid neon fluorescent colors often were seen in skating rings, at a party, or in public haunted houses during Halloween season. I remember decorating my bedroom with black-light posters as a teenager as well. That is why I get excited about the idea of luminescent and fluorescent mediums in art.

I recaptured the excitement with this neon cocktail glass metal wall sculpture. It is made of mild steel that was cut and arc welded together. After careful priming of the surface, I applied fluorescent black-light sensitive paint within an airbrush to get a more even and smooth coat. I then protected with a gloss clear aerosol clear coat. I produce many style of unique metal art but I look forward to working in fluorescent paints soon.

Fluorescent Pigments

A selection of various manufactured dry fluorescent pigments.
A selection of various manufactured dry fluorescent pigments. | Source

How Fluorescent Paints Work

In fluorescence, visible light sometimes known as "white light" tends to be reflected and perceived normally, as color; while the UV component of light is modified into longer wavelengths, producing additional visible light frequencies, which are then emitted alongside the reflected white light. Human eyes perceive these changes as the unusual 'glow' of fluorescence.

There are both visible and invisible fluorescent paints. The visible appear under white light to be any bright color, turning peculiarly brilliant under black lights. Invisible fluorescent paints appear transparent or pale under daytime lighting, but will glow under UV light in a limited range of colors. Since these can seem to 'disappear', they can be used to create a variety of clever effects.

The most effective way to display these unique pigments in contrasting with a matt black background which seem to enhance the glow of the fluorescent pigments under UV excitation. They are only designed for interior use though. They are delicate and complex organic molecules which are easily destroyed by direct sunlight.

EL wire

Electroluminescent Wire
Electroluminescent Wire | Source

Electroluminescent Wire

Electrolumiscent wire is a thin copper wire coated with a phosphor. When AC current is passed through the wire, the phosphor glows. Electroluminiscent wire(EL for short) is different than ropelight or LEDs in that there is not multiple points of connection. With EL wire, there is one connection and the entire wire is the light filament. EL wire is completely flexible which opens the door for many imaginative uses such as vehicle interior, costume design, or emergency lighting.

Electroluminescent wire, tape and board


The Master of Luminescent Media

Beo Beyond, based out of Germany, is the undisputed master of all things fluorescent and luminescent. Not only does he make outstanding paints for blacklights, he has luminescent sculpture and even costumes. Viewing his website reminds me of the movie Tron.

Beo got his start developing abstract black and white prints in his own lab. He also explored chemical processed on photographic paper and experimented with X-ray prints. In recent years he has gotten into live performances. Check the link above for shows and performances.

Beo Beyond' Blacklight show


Alexander Braun

Alexander Braun another German born artist has an intrgueing story behind the pentagon tile. Apparently it is mathematically impossible to tile a pentagon. He stepped up to the challenge and using geometric calculations to figure out what to due with the unaccounted for space often encountered when trying organize pentagons into a patterns.

Alex Braun studio tour


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