Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Shape of Color 2

Last week we delved in to the rich world of structural color. We saw how nature uses structures smaller than wavelengths of light to create beautiful iridescent colors. Drawing inspiration from nature an artist here in San Francisco is making structural color all her own.

Untitled (Commission for The Leonardo), silver nanoparticles on glass, 24" x 45".

Kate Nichols actually synthesizes her own nano particles to create the color in her artwork. She wanted to paint with the colors of butterfly wings, but as we now know that is not possible with pigments. She is now using the latest advances in the material sciences. 

Untitled. Silver nanoparticles on glass, 36" x 16", 2011.
From her website,
"In 2008, she joined the Alivisatos Lab at the University of California at Berkeley as the lab's first artist in residence. There, she synthesizes nanoparticles that exhibit structural color and creates macroscale art with them. Working as a painter, Kate became fascinated by the phenomenon of structural color–color that derives from a substance's geometric structure rather than its chemical composition. Such structures must be roughly on the scale of wavelengths of visible light and, as such, are measured in nanometers, manipulable with nanotechnology, and out-of-reach in a typical painting studio."

In this video from the Science on the Spot series from KQED Nichols talks about her transition from chemical to structural color.

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

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