Experimenting with black and white: Learning to Paint


To avoid the problems I expected with my colorblindness, I thought I’d try painting with only black and white and explore how the brush can create different textures and how the lighter colors effect the darker areas.

I combed Youtube for some advice and suggestions on how to paint and found an artist who approached abstract art in a fascinating way. [Tatiana Iliina: Abstract Cityscape Painting] She wanted to paint a cityscape in black and white using a palate knife. I hadn’t tried a palate knife, but the speed and energy of the painting looked delightful to try, and the results she got were amazing. So I gave it a try. Here are my results.

What I ended up with was different than what she had. I didn’t like how the middle section looked, and I wanted to have more light areas. I gave more attention to the water effect by adding white and using the palate knife to create contrasting lines to the building shapes. 3

While on a trip to Poland with students, I got up early to explore the city in the early morning light. In one park, the Sun had risen behind a steeple making dramatic light with the fog: deep blacks and shadowy shapes.

I captured the moment in photographs and now, attempted to capture the mood in paint. Because it was morning and fog created a haze, there was little color for me to worry about, so I thought black and white would suit the painting well. 4

One problem I ran into was that the image ended up very flat because there was so much black in the bottom of the photo, so I added in more grey outlining the forms of the buildings and creating more distinct windows. In the end I love the mood created by the translucent light around the bell tower, but the tree doesn’t have the shape I wanted because the brush strokes were too thick to thin. I wanted more even strokes. Later I’ll work on how to achieve what I wanted.

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