What do James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Jacques-Auguste- Dominique Ingres, Vincent Van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Sir Francis Gran, Edward Hopper, Robert Rauschenberg, Morandi and Ben Nicholson and Eastman Johnson all have in common apart from their splendid names and most being American? Well, they were all artists who created predominantly white paintings at some time in their artistic careers.
There are probably thousands of other good examples too. I’ve just looked at these artists prior to giving a Painting in White crit this Thursday for Kidderminster Art Society; a fixture that has been in the diary for many years and to which only now am I giving serious thought. What will they have produced, I wonder, what will I think, and more importantly – what will I say? I’ll tell you on Friday. I am really looking forward it; lots of white on white surprises. Naturally I shall be my diplomatic self; aware that constructive criticism is the key.
Have I ever used white only? Well, I once produced a series of very subtle embossed portraits of Worcester Porcelain jugs and teapots. From the other side of the gallery there was barely anything to see but take a step closer and the shallow shadows revealed the exquisite profiles of the Worcester pots. My pen and ink drawings of the collection had been transposd into a completely different medium: embossing. They were produced on pre-dampened Somerset paper and were created on my Harry Rochat press using plastic templates I had cut by hand. Quiet and understated they mirrored Royal Worcester’s unpainted and unglazed white ware. Quietly beautiful, they were understated, clean.
I could quite happily paint a white painting; a simple still life with paper creased and gentle touch.
A thousand shades of white. Imagine sunshine on snow, light flickering over egg shells, dazzling a virgin bride. Brilliant yet pale -illuminated from within; shadows cast.