By Ian (DOC) Bartlett, CRI, CRFI                                              Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Decorative Artists in Canada (DAIC) recently announced the first trading card exchange for 2011. The trading card exchange is for DAIC members only. You can become a member for FREE by joining at

I have just registered for this “Black and White” DTC (DAIC Trading Card) exchange and will soon be designing and painting my interputation of the theme for this exchange even though I do not as yet know the identity of my exchange partner.

Black and white may initially appear to be a dull subject but it certainly got me thinking.  First of all I was wondering about the colours “black” and “white”, how they were defined and described, what they mean and what could actually be painted with just these two colours.


First of all let’s talk about black

My searches, in spite of my tendencies towards becoming a technological dinosaur, begin with an internet search using my favorite search engine Google, and in my case that is

Here is what I gleaned about the subject “Black”.

.1            Definitions are important so my first search is always to Wikipedia: and they describe “Black” as follows:

Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced when no visible light reaches the eye.

Pigments that absorb light rather than reflect it back to the eye “look black”. A black pigment can, however, result from a combination of several pigments that collectively absorb all colors. If appropriate proportions of three primary pigments are mixed, the result reflects so little light as to be called “black”.

This provides two superficially opposite but actually complementary descriptions of black. Black is the lack of all colors of light or an exhaustive combination of multiple colors of pigment.

.2            My next stop landed me with Desktop Publishing

Although this site is directed towards the desktop publishing community there is lots of interesting colour information here. I found some info about neutral colours, colour meanings. Lots more stuff to discover on this site. Here is what they have to say about “Black”

Ultimate Dark:

Considered the negation of color, black is conservative, goes well with almost any color except the very dark. It also has conflicting connotations. It can be serious and conventional. The color black can also be mysterious, sexy, and sophisticated.

Nature of Black:

Black is the absence of color. In clothing, black is visually slimming. Black, like other dark colors, can make a room appear to shrink in size and even a well-lit room looks dark with a lot of black. Black can make other colors appear brighter.

Using Black:

Use the color black to convey elegance, sophistication, or perhaps a touch of mystery. Dark charcoal gray and very dark brown can sometimes stand in for black.

3.            Color Wheel Pro

Apart from lots of information on colour this site has some good information on colour theory In addition this site provides Colour Meanings This site is interesting in that it provides meanings for a whole bunch of colours. Here is what they have to say about “Black”.


Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’). Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief.

Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. A black suit or dress can make you look thinner. When designing for a gallery of art or photography, you can use a black or gray background to make the other colors stand out. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

So Part 2 we can have a discussion about white.

Let me know what you think about this colour and how you might use it.

Published by dustyoldchips

I'm am artist, woodworker, carver and rocking horse craftsman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: