I never met a color I didn’t like.

Dale Chihuly

Why do fluorescent colors arrest my attention? I think it is because they are flamboyant, bodacious, conspicuous, vibrant and brilliant. “Look at me, look at me!” they beckon and I do. Yet I use them sparingly in my paintings – just a hint at times for brightness, surprise and emotional impact.

The fluorescent-affect, depends on the amount of light available, that is the quantity of light that the fluorescent pigments absorb. Daylight has a good deal of ultraviolet energy and so you will observe the intensity of the fluorescent colors, but you will observe little when those wavelengths are less present.

Phosphorescence also results from the emitted light that glows, but phosphorescence lasts longer than fluorescence because the molecules are structurally different. Phosphorescence will glow in the dark.

Think of the creatures you have seen in the dark and the reason they are visible to you is because of their own bio-luminescence. Think of the breath-taking underwater life, corals that glow with such intensity. I think of the hundreds of glow-worms I saw in the grottos in limestone caves in Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand. They were dazzling in the darkness. Think of fireflies. And think of your fluorescent highlighter markers. I have yellow, pink, green, blue and oranges markers and love the fact that that they glow in a dark room with an ultraviolet light.

I have fun experimenting with the range of fluorescent and phosphorescent paints commercially available: Fluorescent Chartreuse, Fluorescent Magenta and Phosphorescent Green are examples. They are brighter than standard pigments and because of their high chroma, I use them for emphasis and contrast. However, I use them sparingly.

I do love color – all colors – though some I prefer to others. I enjoy bright colors because of their intensity and vibrancy, and because, as Edvard Munch says: “The colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.”

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