Seeing White: Student Work

How to see white as a color!



In the Winter Painting Workshop, we painted from a still-life made up of all white objects.  This was an exercise designed to fine-tune our understanding of white paint and how to accurately observe white objects.  The perceived color of a white cup is effected by the color of the light and everything around it. There is reflected color in addition to the color of the object. Observing all the shades of white, and finding the myriad of colors to be perceived in a white still-life is great practice in observing the relativity of color!

My students did a great job with this exercise! They squinted their eyes, tenaciously mixed subtle shades of gray, yellow, pink, etc... And from an all white still life they  ended up with these remarkably colorful paintings!

See some of our influences here: http://berlindrawingroom.blogspot.de/2014/02/seeing-white.html
Artists who have made the color white the subject matter of their paintings!













Seeing White

When learning how to paint, the use of the color white can be one of the most difficult skills to grasp. Improper use of white paint is one of the most common mistakes for beginners, resulting in a patch-work like effect.  It is easy to assume that a white object must just be painted with white paint, or a highlight on a form should be as light as possible and therefore pure white. But as we learned, colors are relative! So even if you are painting a white cup, the perceived color is effected by the color of the light, and what is surrounding the cup.  Shades of white can be very subtle and require close observation, but the results can be stunning!

Here are some examples of artists who have used white very intentionally as a color.  To see examples of the excellent work from this class go HERE
Starting most famously with Whistler's aptly titled "Symphony in White, No. 1" or "The White Girl."

Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl, James Abbott McNeil Whistler,  1862

John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent

Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Claude Monet


Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi

Milton Avery, 1946

Georgia O'Keeffe