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My Favourite Painting Colours - Black & White

Updated: Aug 22


Black and white abstract painting

I use black and white colours in most of my paintings. I believe they add great depth, meaning and feeling to many artworks. I like the contrast both colours produce; blended with other colours or in a black and white painting.


The beginning of a painting is so important as it leads to the continuous development of the painting to the end. Using shades of black and white, makes a good beginning as both shades allow more freedom to add more colours.


But it’s interesting to read so many articles about whether black is a colour and white is a colour? The answer, I’m afraid, isn’t straightforward.


Colour as Light (Additive Colour Theory). In the absence of light, everything is black, therefore black is not a colour. White, on the other hand, is the blending of all the colours of the spectrum. Light appears colourless or white, therefore white is a colour.


In the Additive Colour Theory, combining the primary colours red, blue and green lights (or wavelengths) creates white light. This is not a mistake, the primary colours in the Additive Colour Theory are Red, Blue and Green. For example, the colours seen on a computer screen or a television set are the result of combining red, blue and green lights.


Combining any two additive primary colours creates a secondary colour. These are cyan, yellow and magenta, referred to as “CYM” in the art and digital industries.


The Subtractive Colour Theory looks at colour as a pigment and by mixing all three primary colours of Red, Yellow, and Blue you will create black. It will not be jet black, but it explains the idea. Therefore, black is a colour when referring to the colour of pigments.


White is not a colour because, technically speaking, pure white is the absence of colour. You can’t mix colours to make white.


What about reflection and vision? We see colours because the process involves:

  1. Colour as a pigment or as a light,

  2. How the colour is transmitted,

  3. How the colour is received by the human eyes

I think we can conclude that the colour we see is the light reflection of that colour and how the human eyes receive it and interpret it.

This is one of the most debated subjects about colours and the debate continues.

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