This is a little late because I was procuring a camera that could actually pick up the glow paints in the dark, but I’m happy I waited because these photos are better than what I could get on my phone.
Overall, I think this project turned out fairly well. I came quite close to achieving the effect that I wanted, and it was a really interesting experience working with glow pigments. The project isn’t as neat and the teddy bear isn’t as well hidden in the light as I would have liked, but I think that if I continue to make paintings with the glowing pigments, I would get better at hiding where the glow pigments. It took me a while to really get the hang of the medium, and at that point I was already committed to a painting concept and a project that didn’t necessarily fit the colours as well as it could have.
I am happy that the teddy bear is identifiable as a teddy bear in the dark, which was something that was a concern for a while. I also would like it if the glow paints were a bit brighter, but in general I am happy with how much they lit up after being exposed to good sunlight.
I’m looking forward to trying this kind of a project again sometime in the future — neater and better planned. One of my biggest mistakes was not realizing that I wasn’t capable to reproducing the flourescent orange colour of the glow pigment using my gouche paint, so it doesn’t blend into the spider’s face very well in the light. It blended better when it was all gouche paint, but after adding on thick layers of the glow paint to make it show up in the dark, it looked decidedly different. The colors in the gouche paint do not lend themselves to flourescent tones, so I would need to find another way to achieve that color using plain paint if I were to attempt something like this again.
Nevertheless, I like the way I was able to use ‘painted’ light and create two different pictures in different light, so I consider this project relatively successful.
I may have slightly overestimated how long I am actually able to sit and paint for in one sitting, especially since I usually paint bent over on my floor and it’s just not a good posture to hold in general. But, I did get about 2/3 of the way through the back painting for my project, and even added some of the glow paint into the upper parts of the painting. The bottom part is going to take some work to get the light source right, so that’s what I’ll be working on in the upcoming week. I am also thinking about ordering a frame, but I’ll need to be careful to make sure that it doesn’t have any glass or plastic in it that would diffuse the pigment light, which is very obvious in a dark room but dim enough that it would be easily lost if it were diffused. Mixing the pigments with a very high pigment to binder ratio seems to be working, but my phone camera is still bad. My plan is to rent out a better camera for the final project. (Fingers crossed that I remember and am able to get a hold of one.)
There still a fair amount of glow paint left to add (I haven’t done the orange or the red yet which makes up the bulk of the teddy bear), so the painting still doesn’t really look right in the dark, but it’s getting there.
I got the glow in the dark pigments in near the end of last week and have been experimenting with them a bit. As I expected, they don’t glow nearly as strongly as the glowsticks did, which has unfortunately made photographing
them difficult. I plan to use a much higher pigment/binder ratio going forward, which will hopefully make them brighter, but for now there’s going to be a little bit of faith involved when I tell you they do visibly glow in a dark room, just not bright enough for my phone camera to pick it up most of the time.
I ordered a canvas today that will be the canvas for my final project. Until it gets here, I will be continuing to experiment with how to get the best glow out of the pigments. Based on my experiments this week, my best bet will be to paint the entire picture in acrylic (using pastel colors as much as possible in the areas I want to glow), letting it dry, and then going over it with several layers of the glow in the dark paint.
The hardest parts of this project will be to get the glow bright enough and clear enough to make it obvious what the shapes are, and getting the painting underneath to look right. I am at best a mediocre painter, which I didn’t quite think through when picking this project, so I also used this week to experiment with the colours of the under-painting. It was a difficult adjustment for me mentally to get used to the idea that in order to make it look like a night scene, literally everything is blue/green, even the things that re actually orange or brown. As a result I have some really weird greens in my practice paintings for this week, and I will probably still have some weird greens in the final painting, but hey, it’s a monster. It can be a weird shade of green if it wants to be.
Next up for me is to continue experimenting with higher pigment concentrations to get a clear glow from the paints, and as soon as I get the canvas in, getting the sketch and the basic shapes and colours painted in. Then all that will be left on the project itself would be lots of coats of glow paint, and cleaning up the painting details to the best of my ability.
I have decided try to work with permanent glow pigments. I spent part of this week brainstorming: I was having trouble decided what I wanted the picture to be about. In the end I decided on a ‘monster under the bed’ picture, that becomes just toys under the bed in the dark. Here is a sketch I did.
The glow in the dark pigment is, of course, still visible in the light, so I will work the teddy bear’s face into the shading and features of the monster’s face, but only the teddy bear and other toys will appear in the dark.
I ordered a binder from Amazon and that arrived in the mail early this week, but unfortunately the pigments did not come in until late Wednesday. I didn’t get the chance to pick them up from the mail room, which wasn’t running today because of the blizzard, so I haven’t been able to make as much progress as I would like. After I get the glow in the dark pigments, I need to experiment with mixing and storing them as paint. Then I can do color tests with them on my sketch.
I will be working this week on color tests and further planning using this sketch before I consider moving to canvas (which I will also have to order from Amazon, as the art store CC Lowell appeared to be closed when I visited). I expect there will also be a learning curve with mixing pigments into the acrylic binder, which I will be practicing this week as well.
I started by ordering a package of glowsticks of assorted colours, which arrived on Monday. I cut one open with a utility knife, and was able to extract the interior glass tube containing the fluorescent dye without breaking it.
I made a quick drawing in magic marker and charcoal of a campfire. Then I broke the glass tube, and added hydrogen peroxide to the dye. At first, it didn’t glow very brightly, which was kind of disappointing.
I realized there were a few problems – the first was that the chemical that causes the dye to fluoresce didn’t mix very well with the red dye itself, so I had to work hard to keep them from separating. I found when I started painting that the pigment of the market had a much stronger effect on the appearance of the colour of the light than the dye from the glowstick. The other one was that the hydrogen peroxide I was using was a topical solution, which is not nearly as strong as the chemicals that come in the glowstick itself. (The next time I tried it, I used both chemicals from the glowstick, which worked better.)
I painted the glowing dye over the top of the campfire drawing, moved it into a darker environment, and pretty pleased with the effects. Then I moved it into an area of almost total darkness. The mix of orange showing through from the market and the greenish glow from the dye that hadn’t combined well with the glowstick pigment looked especially interesting in total darkness. I also found that areas that were completely filled in with a darker color of magic marker didn’t show the glowing pigment as well as I expected in any light.
Now that I had experimented with the logistics of painting with glowsticks a little bit, I decided to try something that required a little more precision. Since the hydogen peroxide also tended to make the markers bleed and I usually use gouche paint, which is water soluble, I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to accidentally destroy the under-painting of whatever I end up working on.
I came up with the concept at about half past one in the morning, and I must have been feeling artsy at the time. I started with an inspirational phase and a related picture. I kept it relatively simple, since as I said, I wasn’t sure whether or not the chemicals would destroy the paint. I used blue glowsticks for the second picture I experimented with, and those had far fewer dye separation issues than the red glowstick had.
The goal was to paint a globe on the face of the watch, and cause only the words ‘too late’ to appear when the painting was in the darkness. Unfortunately, it was a bit difficult to get the glowstick dye to create a globe with any degree of precision – the chemcals are even thinner and more inclined to bleed than watercolours, so if I want to do anything with detail I will need to find a way to use a binder to thicken it without losing the glow. I also noticed that it’s difficult to paint over areas that have already been painted – for example, the most I could do was shadow the words in glow, not paint over them as an exact duplicate.
While I’m not necessarily unhappy with how the glowstick trials went (actually, I think the resulting pictures look kind of cool), I do want to look into getting phosphorescent pigments that I can mix with something like acrylic paint, because I want to try working with something that is thicker and has a permanent glow. Alternatively, I may experiment with glowstick paintings that use no underpainting at all and are somewhat indistinct or abstract, which would solve the bleeding and the not appearing over pigment issues.
Phosphorescent pigments (much cheaper)/paint (easier but more expensive) – Glowminex sells an assortment of glowing pigments for ~$7 an oz.
Acrylic paint/some other kind of pigment binder (if using pigments)
Larger canvas for final project.
If not using permanent pigments, rent a better camera – my cell phone does not do these pictures justice at all.
I have ideas of concepts and techniques I would like to experiment with, but no specific vision in mind yet. My first idea is to cut open lots of glow sticks using a utility knife to collect the vials of fluorescent dye inside. (Hopefully without breaking them, but I could use glowsticks that have already been cracked also.) The dye in glowsticks shines when mixed with hydrogen peroxide, a common household chemical. Once I have the dye, I could try using sponges or paintbrushes to create glowing images.
Unlike many of my classmates, most of my degree is not strictly related to computers – that’s more of a hobby. Since I am a Chemical Engineering major, I think it would be interesting to use chemical light instead of electrical light. Also, I have always wanted to cut open a glowstick.
It would also be interesting to see what it looked like to layer the glowing dye over the top of a regular painting to highlight certain areas. Not only does that have the potential to look really cool, it is also a useful way to use the fact that people’s eyes are attracted to light to direct (or misdirect) people’s attention to the subject of the image. I even have some subject ideas in mind – it would be a great way to portray luminescence in fish or ocean waves (some water appears to glow when it impacts something because it is filled with bioluminescent plankton.)
Alternatively, since radioactivity is frequently portrayed as ‘glowing’, I could do something about a nuclear subject. It also might be interesting to hide a message in the lit-up windows of a basic cityscape that, depending on what glow in the dark pigment I use, is either only visible temporarily until the reaction stops, or is only visible in the dark.
The other concept I have is to play with the effect of liquid on visible light (and vice versa). Inspired but Professor Rosenstock’s immortal quote, “What would this look like if we stuck an LED in it?” and my own love of rainy days, my idea is to use the halos and reflections created by water to create interesting patterns of reflected light.
I’m not sure yet whether I want to use a dynamic liquid and a static light or dynamic lights and a static liquid. Dynamic liquids are harder to manage, but it might be interesting to see the kind of light patterns that would be created by an internally lit column of liquids of different densities. Sort of like sticking an LED into a bottle of salad dressing, but we can do better with the colours than salad dressing. For the static liquid and dynamic lights, I could create the style of reflections that appear when lights shine on a smooth body of water or wet pavement, and make patterns of colour that change over time.
Janne Parviaien is a 35 year old photographer and painter from Finland, who sometimes uses the online alias jannepaint. He discovered light art by mistake in 2007 when he bumped into one of his cameras while shooting in a dark area, and was fascinated by the effects it created. He has since been featured in publications such as National Geographic and Wired magazine, and does some commercial work, including a project with Adobe Systems.
He lies in Helsinki, Finland, and is often inspired by the city and feelings of urban sprawl. He does many of his shoots in abandoned locations in and around the city. The work shown below was part of a shoot done a forest containing numerous abandoned cars.
Many of Parviaien’s inspirations and influences are easily represented by his oil paintings, which are done on old windows using both sides of the pane of glass. His oil paints are usually of sparse natural scenes, or scenes of urban detail, because his is interested in the “abstract rhythm” created by the growth of plants and
graffiti around the existing landscape. He comments on his website about the subjects of his paintings: “What makes things beautiful in my opinion is the rhythm and life force of the subject, rather than culturally learned ideals.” These ideas can also be seen in many of his works of light art.
He believes the essence of light art is that there is no post production work, and all photos should come straight from the camera. For pictures with difficult perspective aspects, he plans them in his studio without using any computer assistance. He usually shoots in almost complete darkness, and his primary tools are actually LED finger lights that are intended to be children’s toys. He also uses flashlights and coloured gels, and occasionally chalk marks are used to guide his light traces and sometimes even incorporated into the picture itself.
The picture of his that is most recognizable to people is an image featured in National Geographic’s April issue in 2013. It is called “Days of Our Lives”, and it is an example of what he calls Light Topography, or tracing a room’s entire surface in light. The photo took a 24-minute exposure time to complete.
His works often contain a figure lying on the ground, or contain other eerie images, including glowing skeletons. These skeletons are featured in a music video he made for the song Helsinki Safari by Hahmo, another Finnish artist, which is a stop-motion video that includes almost 800 individual light paintings.
Another work of his, Catharsis, was chosen to be part of the promotional program for UNESCO’s Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, which was an event hosted by the United Nations in 2015 that aimed to raise awareness about light-based technology an its applications. Catharsis is another example of light topography, and includes more color and complex figure shapes than Days of Our Lives.
Hello everyone! My name is Hayley Boigenzahn, and I am a junior Chemical Engineering major with a minor in Computer Science. Since high school, I have always been very involved in band, so mainly my extracurricular hobbies are music related. I have played French Horn for about 8 years, plus I play xylophone in the Pep Band and am working on learning guitar. Since I came to WPI, I have also been involved in tech and acting for Masque, the organization that puts on non-musical plays.
Art was a hobby I picked up during high school, doing elaborate drawings on the back of old homework assignments. Since I’m often busy with other activities, I haven’t always spent as much time on my art as I would have liked. I’m sure that I could learn a lot from other students who have more artistic
background and practice. I took Figure Drawing at WPI to improve my ability to draw people and characters, and still enjoy doing studies and sketches in pencil and occasionally charcoal. I also enjoy painting- I use acrylic or gouache, because that’s what I happen to already own.
I definitely enjoy Photoshop, and have had experience with both digital painting and photo-editing. However, everything I’ve done in Photoshop
recently is more of speed-paint style than a long term project because it runs slowly on my laptop. I have also had some experience with Zbrush, from when I took 3D Modelling during freshman year at WPI. Since I am a CS minor, I have experience programming in a few different languages, but very little of it has been related to art or development – mostly data analysis.
I don’t usually like to create my own characters, so a lot of my artwork would be considered fan art, or at least contains a reference to something. I am a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, which are great for imagery. I also like combining characters and settings from separate stories together. In the world of landscapes, my influences are my grandma, who paints crafts and landscapes, and Bob Ross, who hosted a PBS series called The Joy of Painting in which he taught wet-on-wet oil technique for speed painting landscapes.
I will admit that I’m not sure what my artistic goals are right now. The best goal for me to start with is to spend more time doing art. I had very little time for any hobby over the past semester because of IQP, so any goal I make now would have no recent context to it. Once I spend more time getting into my projects, both personal and for this class, I’m sure better artistic goals will become apparent.