The shifting rainbow hues of iridescence have, until recently, remained exclusive to nature. Now, the latest advances in nanotechnology enable the introduction of novel, bio-inspired color-shifting flakes into painting—thereby affording artists potential access to the full spectacle of iridescence. Unfortunately, existing rules of easel painting do not apply to the new medium; but, as nature inspired the technology, an exploration of natural phenomena can best inform how to overcome this hurdle. Thus, by adopting a biomimetic approach, this paper outlines the optical principles underlying iridescence and provides technical ground rules for its incorporation into painting.

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