Colour, how we see it – WHITE – Part 9 of 10 – Joanna Close

White is seen as pure, fresh, clean, awe inspiring and heavenly. When I think of white, the image of bright sunlight on fresh snow comes to mind. Fresh snow on a sunny day is so white it’s blinding. There are many baking ingredients that are white, pure beaten egg white, lucious icing spread on a cake, freshly whipped cream. Although many fibres are white naturally, like most cotton and many breeds of sheep, they are not pure white, they tend to be a yellowed white, known as off-white. Fabrics and yarns are taken and dyed using various methods, as I have been talking about through these blog entries. Painters often start with a white ground on a canvas, giving a clean blank surface from which to create a painting.

White can be used artistically to brighten or highlight an object, make something appear shiny in a painting, hooked rug, or woven wall hanging. Lead white was the most commonly used white paint by painters, even though it was known to be a poison. The worst application of lead white was as a face paint or makeup. Ladies in Europe as well as the geisha of Japan would paint their faces with lead white powder so they looked pale and pure, many died from this fashion statement.

Naturally white fibres, are often whitened industrially with a blueing agent, as I talked about in my blog entry about blue. Once they have been turned into a pure white by blueing or bleaching, they are commercially dyed. In my own art work I dye all of my own fabric from it’s natural state, therefore I must take into consideration the off-white colour of the fibre before I begin dyeing.

White is the most common colour in home décor, it is versatile and can be a cool colour or a warm colour, depending on the amount of blue or red it contains. This is easily seen in the paint chip section of the hardware store! Have I mentioned yet how fun it is to wander around the paint chips? I find it quite enjoyable to daydream about what colours I would choose.

A red fox in a snowstorm in Ammon, New Brunswick.
Bright white clouds on the ‘Top of the World Highway’ near Dawson City, Yukon
Lemon meringue pie…mmmmm…
The conservatory of flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. The glass is painted white, to create a bright warm environment for the exotic flowers growing inside.
Ready for their spring shearing, these sheep are looking a little brown, but underneath they’re clean and white.


2 thoughts on “Colour, how we see it – WHITE – Part 9 of 10 – Joanna Close

  1. Thanks for the beautiful picture of the Top of the World- it takes me back a few years- to a time in my life when I never would have imagined myself as a rug hooker!! The colours up there- what a show- all night long.


  2. Thanks for this post Joanna. I am working on a background in whites at the moment and am enjoying mixing various textures of whites to create a flow. It is interesting that if a fabric is just a little off how much it detracts from the rest of the background. I have enjoyed your series of posts about colour.


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