Monday, January 17, 2011

Black appreciation.

When I attended art college (it'll be 12 years ago this summer--ugh!) we were taught that black is a non-color. One teacher even told us there was no such thing as black in nature! Ha!

We were forbidden from using it in our paintings. Instead, the students were instructed to make their own darks by mixing blues, purples, and browns.

I still adhere to the "no-black-paint-rule" for my traditional still lifes and floral paintings but have broken it on occasion.

So these rules and ideas always pop into my head when I come across a predominantly black object.

Case in point, while walking to work the other day, I saw this familiar staircase just off Wacker Drive.....


Normally it's a solid, rich ebony but the recent snowfall left a white salt residue behind.

Now there was a wonderful textured effect on the main pillar and railings....bringing the black to life!

Looks like an abstract painting, no?

Such wonderful little details. I couldn't stop staring at that huge black pole! (OMG, that came out wrong!)

Isn't it wonderful what nature can produce? I wonder what my old teachers would say now. Ha!


Blakenetizen said...

Awesome :)

TMCPhoto said...

It's so funny that you should write about this because I was just thinking about my first painting instructor and how black was forbidden on our palettes.

When one of my classmates broke the no black rule she was relentless in her tirade about how dead the painting became with the use of black.

that pole is simply fantastic

david said...

looks a lot like a stairway by the best western's fishing pier at shelter island on the big bay... covered in seagull shit...

~ cheers..

naturgesetz said...

Again your artist's eye observes the character of things others of us might never notice. And it's interesting tobe able to have two different angles on it.

BB said...

Nice post. Apparently your teachers never heard of truffles that grow in the ground and are black? Your pictures are great. And since black isn't a color I wear a lot of uncolored clothing then haha.

Konkbonckles said...

I was always taught that black and white were shades, used to darken or lighten colours... and I still stick to that for some reason. But then again, Pluto will always be a planet to me.. so, things may change, but what's ingrained in you might not, hey?

Clare said...

I cannot draw. Not one bit. I wish that I could. I like to doodle! So reading about what your art teachers told you about no black in your paintings fascinates me. Very interesting. That seems wrong to me. I love the colour black in paintings!

Doomed But Cheerful! said...

Ha ha. But I know what you meant.

If not black, what colour is obsidian?

Happy new year =]

Cockbag LLC said...

And see I was taught that the color white was the absence of color and that black was a combination of all colors. Granted my art background is much more limited. We've been duped!

JuJu said...

I love thinking about where those steps lead. A good picture creates a story and you did that!

thank you!

RoseRed said...

There is a quilt teacher who teaches that every quilt should use what she calls a sparkle color. Meaning every quilt should contain black, green, or purple. Of those - my quilts tend to lean towards using black. Interesting that in painting the opposite is true.

Dean Grey said...


Thanks Sergio!



So you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about!



Gross! It's salt residue not bird poo, David!



Yep, I wanted to show the staircase looking down, then looking up.


Bouncin' Barb!

So agreeing with you. There is a lot of black in nature, especially on animals.

Don't zebras have black stripes after all?



It's funny what lessons stick with us!



Black rules!


Doomed But Cheerful!



Cockbag LLC!

Were you taught this in regards to painting? I guess teachers have their own rules they feel need to be passed on to the rest of us.



The steps lead up to Wacker Drive and down to Columbus Drive!



Oh! And why are they called "sparkle" colors?


I appreciate everyone's opinion on this post!


Shopgirl said...

You can make the simplest objects look and sound artsy. Another great post.

MartininBroda said...

There is beauty in so many things around us, one just has to look and must be able to see, and you see a lot Dean.

JuJu said...

I don't know the streets, since I live in South Carolina. Tell me a story about where they lead.

sMacThoughts said...

True, black is the absence of color, but of course it occurs in nature. Sheesh. I do remember in school being told that "Brown is not a color; it is a fashion term." I went home and announced this to my college roommates, and it became a sort of inside joke where that statement would be pronounced at any random moment of the day (to which we would all nod in serious agreement)... you brought back that memory!

Dean Grey said...


Now that is a wonderful compliment!



I try my best!



A story?

I walk these stairs every time I go see a movie at the AMC River East Theater, which is about two blocks away from there!



I guess our old college professors were just stupid, huh?



Thanks to all of you for chiming in here!


Liz said...

It's beautiful ! Ahaha, and it's nice when sometimes you're walking about and you notice something like this, so unexpected :D

Unknown said...

The use of black is just as necessary in art as the judicious use of white space.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Your old teacher wasn't MUCH of a teacher! Of COURSE there's black in nature! But I do get his point about mixing your own - it's usually richer. *sigh*... all those rules...

Dean Grey said...


So unexpected indeed!






Rules were meant to be broken, right?


I appreciate you three ladies stopping by!


Aaron said...

I laughed so hard when I read the "big black pole" :P

Dean Grey said...


Get your mind out of the gutter! LOL