black and white

Black and White and Mazes

Getting back to black and white occasionally is like clearing the palette from rich (color) food so that one can taste with clarity again. Ha! Well that sounds good anyway. We did a lesson this week in Muse Group of playing with black and white collaged patterns.

blkwhitecamouflageacrylic, collage, black gesso on 10 X 11″ w/c paper

There are ways to deal with mazes and blind alleys. Make it a game and jump in. Have some paint ball fun; play leap frog and roll down a grassy hill. Stir up some random cyclonic energy. Run round in a circle till you collapse, dizzy and spent and laughing. Do you want your life to play like a comedy or a tragedy?

This was a kind of puzzle I wanted to play with, combining an image of a maze or labyrinth (few of us knows the difference) with a dancing figure, engaging in a kind of hide and seek with aspects of camouflage. The discovery was how amazing these bright colors look on the black and white patterning. Something a bit Halloweeny about it, wouldn’t you say?


Wabi Sabi: Nature’s Poetry in Black and White


Higgins black india ink, gesso, collage, acrylic ink tones on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Wabi Sabi. Keep it natural. Keep it sensual. Let the mind flow and spirit rise. 

Black ink bears witness to the natural processes: the melting of snow and slow trickling through ice lattice into underground streams that feed rock beds deep within the layers of the earth we walk,  the passage of time until that melt-off emerges “magically” from faucets.

For eons this one has soared above, witnessing the elemental exchange, silently raising the question of . . .but forever?


Higgins black india ink and Daler Rowney Antelope Brown acrylic ink on paper collage surface, 10 X 11″

In Saturday’s workshop we explored painting with black and white in the context of the Japanese esthetic, Wabi Sabi- the quality of things that suggests a natural process, vulnerable to effects of time, weathering, human treatment, yet still possessing poetry, poise and strength of character.  For more about Wabi Sabi you can go to this post from two years ago.

Often even we lovers-of-color feel freed up by the exploration of black marks on white paper, free to enjoy the added drama of it, but also the subtlety and balance of soft passages with hard edged counterpoints.  We’re not copying nature here, but allowing the ink to flow in natural ways that illustrate the movement of water or texture of stone or flight of wings.