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.


Now we get to talk about white

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

So my first questions are what is white and is white a colour? Wiki answers the question like this

It depends upon whom you ask. Scientists consider black to be the absence of light (and colour if you like) and white to be the presence of all colors. Fine artists, on the other hand, believe the complete reverse: white is the absence of color.

Empty Easel

Empty Easel, the online art magazine with practical advice, tips, and tutorials for creating and selling art.

In addition to information on colour there is a pile more stuff here that could be of interest to any artist.

They define white as follows:

White isn’t a primary, secondary, or tertiary color. Scientifically speaking, it’s actually the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum of light.

What the color white means to us psychologically:

The color white is usually defined by what it’s not—white should have no color in it and no markings or flaws.

To some people, that makes white very sterile, clean, and uninviting. They see white like an operating room, too antiseptic to be comfortable.

To others, white simply suggests a no frills, plain-Jane style—function over style.

White can also seems cold to us as well. Snow and ice are a brilliant white, which has a powerful impact on how we view its “temperature.”

And although it’s probably more of a cultural thing, white is often viewed as the color of moral purity and goodness.

This site is really interesting and has a list of various whites and here they have links to all the other colours as well.

White The color of purity

White is the most important color on the palette. It is not unusual to use as much white in a painting as all the other colors combined. The first whites were weak like chalk but the invention of White Lead during the Greek era was a revolution. It took 2000 years to pass for a competitor to this highly toxic substance to arrive. Zinc White had too many disadvantages of its own to wean artists off the warmth and opacity of White Lead just yet though. When Titanium White was developed in 1919 the writing was on the wall.

Color Wheel Pro

Apart from lots of information on colour this site has some good information on colour theory

They also talk about the meaning of colour

This site is interesting in that it provides meanings for a whole bunch of colours. So here is what they have to say about white.


White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection.

White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.

In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.

Well there you have it just a teaser on this interesting an important subject of black and white.

Let me know what you think of these colours and how you might use them.

Published by dustyoldchips

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


  1. Black and White are not considered to be colors, they are classed as values.
    Both Black and White are used to increase or decrease the value( the lightness
    or darkness) of other colors. When you add white to a color, the color is then
    called a tint. When you add Black to a color the color is then called a shade.
    This is what I learned in a coarse I took a few years ago involving color.

    Maureen Inverarity

  2. Black and white are colours in my opinion..and white is my favourite
    me it represents … , sterile…clean, and happiness like the white
    of the new bride or the white of sheets blowing in the wind when my mom used to hang them on the line, l can still picture all her sheets blowing in the wind on our farm ..

    Black is sad to me and l think of funerals unless it has some color along with it….Black in itself is boring …like the little black dress it needs some bling to perk it up a bit.

    Black and white together is elegant..

    just my thoughts…

    Carol Murray
    Welland Ontario

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