Monday, 5 January 2015

Black is Back

I wanted to set myself a project for 2015 using this blog to keep me on track.  I've decided to explore colour and each month I will focus on one colour.  For the month of January I've chosen black.
I don't use black in my paintings as I prefer to mix my darks myself, but I do like to draw with black ink or black coloured pencil.

Black is the absence of colour and light so is it really a colour at all?  It's all about perception and the way light is reflected, or not as is the case for black. For scientists black doesn't exist but  if you combine all 3 primary colours you won't get jet black but it will be a pretty dark colour.

Stone age artists used charcoal to draw animals on cave walls, black was one of the first colours to be used in art.

The pigments used for black are varied;
The Romans made Vine black from burnt branches of grape vines.
Lamp black was made by condensing into a mass the smoke off an oil lamp.
Ivory black was produced by burning ivory, nowadays a normal animal bone substitute is used.
Mars black developed in the 20th century from iron oxides.

A couple of years ago I was sorting through my art supplies and I noticed how many pens, ink, pencils etc I had in black, so I decided to make a little chart to compare the different shades. As you can see there is a lot of difference.

We associate black with darkness and evil but it is also an elegant colour for the fashion industry, just think of Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. 
Auguste Renoir called black the queen of all colours and Henri Matisse is quoted as saying "When I didn't know what colour to put down, I put down black"

How do you use black? What do you use it for?
I will be experimenting with black this month, does anybody else want to have a go? Let me know!


Polly Birchall said...

Really interesting post and made me think about my own collection of black things. That coat drawing is to die for.

Sue Pownall said...

What an interesting project, I look forward to following it.

Sue Pownall said...
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