I have been enjoying the simplicity of painting in only black and white recently, playing with shades of light and dark to create small monochrome works of art.
In truth this isn’t a great leap from my normal process. Once I have filled in the background on canvas or paper I usually paint freestyle in layers of white until my subject emerges. I don’t know if this method is particular to me or practiced by other artists, however I have found that it works for me.
As this stage of a painting is usually my favourite part of the process I decided to experiment with a completely black background and then use only white paint to complete the picture in its entirety.
My first experiment was to recreate a drawing I had done previously to illustrate the famous tale of The Princess and the Pea, which you may remember from a previous post. I enjoyed the process and was pleased with the outcome so my experiments in painting in monochrome have continued, as you can see.
Even when I use colour I tend to work in muted tones, such as the deeper earthy hues of brown, grey, green and blue. Although I can appreciate bright bold colours in the work of other artists, they have never made their way into my preferred palette; even a cursory glance at my portfolio will show that it’s the colours of deep forests, stormy skies and dark nights that draw me most.
Of course making black and white art is not new for me, it’s just that it usually involves pencil or charcoal on a white surface. Such as this recent encounter between a bear and a mouse…
White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.