Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm wild for White

Carolina Blue  20X28, oil on linen

Though I am a native born Floridian, North Carolina near Chapel Hill is a major part of my life and family history.  So painting with themes related to my NC roots is major for me.  "Carolina Blue", the fourth painting in my new series of paintings featuring my favorite NC pots and old white fabric family heirlooms is my latest testimony to my heritage. But, something is happening here that I didn't expect when I began.  The nuances of color and temperature changes with white fabric have made me understand grays in a way I have never thought possible.  Now, when I lay out my palette at the beginning of each day, I can mix puddles of white with ease and understanding of what I am seeing.  The "air" of the background colors becomes part of the shadows of the whites of the fabric.  Now when someone asks me what colors you mix to make white, my answer is . . . "depends on what you are seeing."  The teaching advise of  "... if the light shapes are cool, then the shadow colors will be warm and visa-versa"  isn't necessarily so.  Judging value gradations is the other skill that painting white fabric promotes.   The folds, turns, hills, and valleys are much like painting a landscape.   Learning to "see" takes time and painting white can really move that process along--just a suggestion.  I love painting white to the point that I think I am addicted.


  1. Deborah, Outstanding post. I needed to read this. I've been spending a lot of time looking around me lately, trying to improve my "seeing" skills. Can't succeed artistically if you can't "see". But appreciate your comment about accelerating the training by painting white. I'm going to give it a try. Any suggestions on type of fabric or lighting to try first? TIA, Candace.

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  3. you are coming on strong, Deborah. Great to see!

  4. Deborah,
    Thanks--Spending long hours every day in the studio is paying off.

  5. My lighting is a full spectrum light on both the canvas and the still life. I work in a darken room to control light coming in from all directions. The fabric is not so important--but here's a warning. Set up the still life and let it have 24 hours or more to "settle." I spent a lot of time drawing the first day only to find that the fabric had moved during the night from moisture. As you may be aware of, I am an indirect painter so my whites are multi-layered. When you go for the brilliant white where the light is the brightest, let the underpainting dry first. Otherwise, your white will just sink in and loose its luster. Hope this helps.

  6. Very subtle, very lovely. You are not wild about white but very controlled about white. Beautiful piece.

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks for your visit and your lovely comment.


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