Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One Black or Many?

During Medieval times, painters used ground up mineral pigments for color. The preparation of colors was a laborious process. Black pigments had a strong tendency to clump and were the most time-consuming to prepare.

No coloring agent yields a perfect black; they are either bluish or reddish---cool or warm. Black absorbs light and no paint or dye can quite achieve perfect absorption. Traditionally, natural blacks were obtained by mixing a very dark red-brown with a dark blue. In the 18th century, improved black dyes were made based on indigo and the woods logwood and sumac. These arrived just in time for the 19th century, in which black clothing, with its connotations of morality and modesty, was much prized.

Clerics, teachers, members of the legal and medical professions, and domestics all wore black. As the century progressed it became even more stylish. Dandies dressed in black, particularly in the evening; grieving women of wealth wore glossy black silk.

Like white, black is a color that does not exist in a pure form except in the imagination. It took centuries to create fine blacks in dyeing, but good carbon  black pigments, which absorb light well and approximate a true black, have been known and used since earliest antiquity. The color black has fascinated many artists, including the brilliant colorist Vincent van Gogh (1853-90).

The 20th century modernist Jean Dubuffet (1901-85)  stated, "Black is an abstraction; there is no black, only black things such as black satin, a black cloth, a spot of ink on paper, black shoe polish, black chimney soot and tar. But they are black in different ways, for there is the question of brilliance, whether they are matte or shiny, polished, rough, fine, and so forth, which is very important---the way an artist applies it is more important than the color."

Lilian Verner-Bonds, author of The New Life Library: Color Healing, states that "Black is the favorite color of those who keep control by not giving information to others. Black indicates that something is dormant or buried. It is connected to philosophical thoughts and ideals.

Someone who wears black continuously may be saying that there is something absent from his or her life. Negative black believes all is ended, there is nothing to look forward to. It is afraid of what is coming next.

But at the heart of black is discipline. Black can complete the incomplete. The mystic arts relate to black. There are no parts of the body specifically connected to black except when seen on x-rays or in the aura as disease. A black feather represents respect for the old. And, black foods heighten your awareness of the magic within you.

Wearing black jewellery will announce that you have hidden potential. Some see that dressing in black says 'I'm young, I'm ready and I'm totally in control.'

Negative black keywords: Destructively strong, troublesome, superior, despairing, and constrained.

But, to end on a positive note, the positive black keywords are: Beneficially strong, creative, idealistic, and secretly wealthy."



  1. Hmmm, I like how you end with the negative and positive. Hope you don't mind if I use those in my writing somehow. Interesting post!

    1. How are you doing in "retirement" from your blog? I see you are getting a lot of reading done from your Facebook bulletins. Did you ever paint your dining room that funny-named color? If so, I'd like to see a picture.
      Neon colors are in for spring, to counteract our gloomy economic climate.