Been doing a lot of thinking and reading about paint the past few days. My primary sources were Rheni Tauchid's superlative New Acrylics Essential Sourcebook (I've had this for awhile, but haven't delved that deeply into it till now) and a growing library of car magazines. Now, if you're familiar with custom cars at all, you've probably seen how a well-done metalflake job looks like it's a mile deep - essentially there are transparent layers of rich colour laid down over a base that has tiny pieces of metal (or mica) suspended in it.
I'm currently in the middle of new batch of paintings, and as fate would have it, I want a background treatment for one that resembles candyapple metalflake red. I've got any number of acrylic colours, texture gels and grounds, but I had my heart set on micaceous iron oxide for a base. From what I hear this miraculous substance, in addition to providing all sorts of chromatic variation effects, is a formidable protective coating.
I say "from what I hear" because I was unsuccessful in my attempts to track some down, despite the efforts of a helpful sales associate at Opus.
Which is largely, of course, what led to my latest research. So with my thinking cap on, I came up with this recipe: a base of black gesso, a layer of black lava gel, some drybrushed highlights in Tri-Art Liquid Mirror and iridescent stainless steel paints, and finally, a series of glazes in Alizarin crimson. I may yet add a protective layer or two of clear gloss gel for added depth, but that remains to be seen at the moment.
So, to make a long story short ("too late!"), my solution worked just fine. Have a look at this photo:
Towards the corner, that's just the glaze over the lava gel, and moving left there's a band of the stainless steel, followed by the Liquid Mirror. I'd call that a successful experiment. Playing mad scientist is one of the best parts of painting with a medium as advanced as acrylics.
ADDENDUM: Now that I've given this some more thought, there's another potential solution: a base coat of the Liquid Mirror, then the lava gel, and then the crimson glaze. May have to try this option out as well.