Composite Paintings

Composite Paintings


These paintings are composite materials. Composite materials are an important part of our new technology and changing society. But they aren't new. Adobe huts are made of composite material, plywood is a composite material and so are many of the structural and aerodynamic parts on airplanes and space vehicles. Working on the latter as a materials science engineer is what has taught me my craft.


Ocean Energy, Melissa Muehleisen, 2019

These composite paintings are built on a support of canvas, they have a fiber based foundation and a polymer matrix. Together the two components have different characteristics that neither material has alone. I have exploited this unique phenomenon of composites to give the canvas a sculptural quality.

These canvases have been covered in layers of fabric, pigment and binder. By making use of the layered effect of the color and translucency of the fabric, an iridescence visual property is created. This iridescence property is brought about by the diffraction of the "screens" of the material. This property and how it is created is discussed by Faber Birren in his classic text Principles of Color


Ocean Energy, side viewOcean Energy, detailOcean Energy, textureOcean Energy, edges

The texture is the result of years of experimentation with the materials. Working with aerospace composites enabled me an opportunity to understand the nature of working with a combination of fiber and polymer. The composites I have created for the last 10 years had a primary goal of maintaining structure. With these composite paintings my goal has been color manipulation, texture creation and control of light and eye movement.