How to Paint With Iridescent Acrylic Paints

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Iridescent acrylic paints are a combination of pigment mixed with aluminum silicate (powdered mica). After drying, the paint will appear shimmering or reflective depending on how fine or coarse the powder is in the paint. This type of paint can be found in both fine art and craft stores.


Acrylic paint is water-based and can be cleaned up with soap and water. It dries quickly and needs to be sprayed with water to keep it from drying during the process of painting. Iridescent paints are translucent and look best when painted over a color that complements the metallic color you are trying to achieve. Deep, contrasting colors under this type of paint will show through, adding depth, dimension and texture.


Iridescent paint is ideal for use on heavy paper, canvas, walls, wood and plaster surfaces. Since each formula is unique, read the label on the package to see if it can be used on the surface you are painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Iridescent paint
  • Solid color acrylic paint
  • Palette
  • Palette knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Rag
  • Water cup
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean and dry surface to be painted. If a canvas is being used, it should be primed.

  • Squeeze the solid color paint on the palette. Spray water onto it and mix with a palette knife to a consistency similar to soft butter.

  • Cover the surface with smooth brush strokes. Let the surface dry completely. Repeat if necessary.

  • Squeeze the iridescent paint onto the palette. Spray with water and mix with a palette knife to achieve a thin liquid consistency.

  • Brush on top of the solid color, using smooth strokes. Go over each area only once and allow to dry. Repeat as many times as needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • To enhance gold metallic, try using yellow as a base coat. To enhance bronze, use either dark red or blue as a base color. Copper works well with orange or bright red underneath.
  • To prime a canvas use gesso, a plaster-like preparation used to prepare a surface for painting, and a sponge. After applying one layer of gesso, sand with a fine grade sandpaper and repeat the process until the entire surface of the canvas is covered.
  • Allow each layer of paint to dry completely before adding another layer. If the paint is still wet it will tug at, and perhaps remove, the previous layers.
  • Keep brushes wet during the process of painting and wash them out with mild detergent when finished.

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