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The Color Black Powerful, Sophisticated, Timeless

Michael Owens

Blog #36 of 67




July 9th, 2013 - 09:41 AM

The Color Black Powerful, Sophisticated, Timeless

Black is usually not considered to be a color; not primary, secondary, or tertiary. In fact, black is nowhere to be found on the artist’s color wheel. When every color on the color wheel is combined, black appears. You can buy pre-mixed black paint or create black on your own by mixing certain colors (usually the preferred choice). Personally I mix viridian (dark green) , crimson (red) and ultramarine (dark blue) to create a color so dark it can pass for black in most cases. A black containing actual color almost always looks better in an oil painting than a store bought black. The mixed black will “sit” better with your other mixed colors. In fact store bought black is so overpowering my college painting professor didn’t allow any of her students to use it. Ever.

What the color black means to us psychologically:

Black means a few different things, and almost all of them have negative connotations. That’s because humankind instinctively fears the darkness, and anything that lurks in the night. Black hides the world from our eyes, we like to see the things around us.

Black also represents another great fear, being buried alive or being deep underground, again with no light to see by. Because of these two associations, death, depression, and fear all are part of the color black.

In a different way, black also represents space, specifically outer space and infinite space. There’s also a mystery to things that can’t be defined, or seen, and the color black often accentuates anything with those mysterious or indefinable qualities.

Black is also one of the boldest, most powerful colors; and the most intense against a white background. As a result, designers and advertisers often use just black and white for greater impact, despite all the other colors available. Black is also sophisticated, formal and associiated with the elite; any fancy high society function is a black tie affair

Black and white photography still exists for much the same reason—it can be much more striking than a photograph in color.

Neither male, nor female

Black has no gender-specific qualities at all.

When it comes to clothing, the color black is used equally by both males and females, and often for formal occasions—the timeless “little black dress” for women, and the traditional black tuxedo for men.

On the other hand, “gothic” or “goth” styles of clothing primarily uses the color black because of its association with death.

Black in society:

Beyond fashion, black is sometimes worn as a symbol of authority, like with court judges and their long black robes. Referees of many sports wear black as well, or a combination of black and white or black and yellow.

In addition, having a black belt in almost any martial art shows expertise at a high level, if not the very highest level possible. In this case black represents the highest possible level of knowledge and skill.

More often than not, however, black is used to reference things that are bad. “The black market” is one such term which describes stolen goods sold at reduced prices.

Blackmail also uses the word “black” just for it’s negative qualities, and there are many more examples throughout Western culture. The bubonic plague, for instance—responsible for millions of deaths during the middle ages in Europe—was known as the Black Death or Black Plague.

Pigments found in black paint:

Most black pigments are natural pigments similar to graphite or coal, called amorphous carbon. In some cases this black pigment is made from charred animal bones, or burnt vegetative matter.

In fact, almost all black paint is made from some kind of burnt materials with the notable exception being synthetic iron oxide, a more recently developed black pigment.

Common black oil paints:

Mars Black, Lamp Black, and Ivory Black are the most common black oil paints used today.

Famous black paintings:

Well, the only famous example I know about is Picasso’s Guernica. This painting represents the horrors of war in general, and the bombing of Guernica, Spain, by Nazi Germany more specifically.

Keep in mind, in real life it’s 11 feet tall by 23 feet wide.

My own use of black:

Life and Times, by Michael Owens,Mixed Media on paper
For Prints :

In my work black is used quite a bit. In fact, in spite of my painting professor’s warnings I’ve experimented with store bought black paint quite a few times, giving me the chance to see her point first hand. In Life and Times, the painting above, what looks like black is actually a mixture of several dark acrylic pigments, along with black colored pencil, no actual black paint was used. In this work black was used for it’s timeless, mysterious qualities and the strong association with death. This project was inspired by my own near death experience as a teen.

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