-and how it enhances the way you see color
of my painting teachers told me about a particular project she was assigned as
a student: to paint something white. That’s it. Simply paint something that is
all white. My teacher didn’t feel very inspired by the idea at first and chose
a white house to render. But she was floored by what the other students brought
in – exploring the colors in a ceramic mug, or a crumpled piece of paper. The
idea of painting something that seems so plain at first glance is intriguing.
I mean, this is when you really look at something – at its shape and shadows
and highlights and the colors that are hidden in its crevices. After hearing
about this project, I grew inspired to try it out myself. A few times. For example, that white rose up there? When I got it, I immediately asked
my housemate to hold it up against our white walls as I photographed it – which
eventually resulted in this painting. More
recently, I married the concept of white on white with my diner fascination –
and painted the coffee cups and check that sat on the table after breakfast one
Sunday morning at the Rockville Diner.
The concept of painting white-on-white reminds me of that scene in the movie Local Color where the teacher explains the intricacies in the colors that exist in clouds. Painting those clouds is an opportunity to train your eyes to see coolness and warmth, to render subtle color variations with a mix of intensity and restraint. Also, its fun. Hey, want to see some stunning examples of cloud paintings? One of my favorite painting teachers in the whole wide world Kurt Schwarz has a series of them that will just floor you.
Explore painting white-on-white:
Try it out. It can be as simple as finding a white mug or snowglobe or tchotchke or what have you, and placing it on top of a white piece of paper. Bam. This is your still life. Don’t get discouraged if it looks dull as hell. This is what makes the act of painting so cool. You can take that dull scene, and make it come alive with color and contrast, with your own interpretation and style. As you fill in the colors, look for the highlights and shadows, and what subtle colors are living in those pockets. As you do this, you will breathe life and color into the canvas.