“I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener.” – Arvo Part
Those of you who are familiar with my work will know how passionate I am about colour and how, in both my paintings and photography, I usually take the approach that the more colour (and the more vibrant) the better!
But waking up the other day, to find a magical world of white outside my window following a night of gentle snow fall, made me realise beauty is not always about colour.
This is further illustrated by many photos of Skiathos blanketed in snow, that appeared on the internet this week. There was a particularly beautiful album by Victoria of ‘Skiathos Books’ :
which shows a very different Greek island to the one we’re all more familiar with:
There is an atmospheric quality in monochromatic images that a full colour palette doesn’t always capture as successfully. One only has to look at old sepia tinted photos to be instantly transported back in time to a bygone era. Black and white photos fare better over decades but the chemical processes used in colour photography have developed so dramatically over the years that colour photographs can quickly become ‘dated’. They also don’t retain colour well and sometimes images fade away altogether. How many of us have old albums filled with now faded or orange tinted snapshots, such as this one?
Yvonne, Sharjah U.A.E. 1973
Oil paintings age well and gain an evermore pleasing patina through the centuries as do watercolours (so long as they’re kept out of direct sunlight). Acrylics, modern synthetic ‘plastic’ paints, although often considered gaudy and garish by comparison, enjoy widespread use in popular contemporary art today and seem to perfectly reflect the modern ‘plastic’ age we live in. They will undoubtedly wear well and are likely to retain their vibrancy for years to come. Fine examples can be found at the fabulous exhibition of David Hockney’s colourful landscapes, currently showing at London’s Royal Academy of Art in Piccadilly. See info and video: ‘A BIGGER PICTURE ‘
Winter Timber 2009 © David Hockney
Alongside a staggering amount of his traditional paintings in acrylics and oils, are many of his latest ‘paintings’ created by using the very latest technology; his Ipad. See him in action here: VIDEO
In this digital age, artists and photographers can not only create art (with apps such as BRUSHES):
Here are my first Ipad attempts (both of which took under a minute!):
but also, with easy access to software (Photoshop et al) they can manipulate images in almost every way possible too: to correct or enhance colour and tonal values, ‘age’ an image artificially and even remove all trace of colour altogether! But a good original black and white photograph, taken with sufficient attention to light, tone and contrast, will continue not only to stand the test of time but also lend a uniquely timeless quality to its subject, quite unlike any other medium.
It was for this reason I decided to shoot Villa Nicara, inside and out, in black and white.
“Black and white are absolute… expressing the most delicate vibration, the most profound tranquility, and unlimited profundity”. – Shiko Munakata
My aim was to try to capture something of the more elusive moments, such as when the fierce afternoon sun, filtering through the lattice pergola and the muslin curtains wafting gently in the onshore breeze, creates dancing shadows on the stark white walls. Moments when, in the cool dim interior, tiny dust particles float in rays of softly diffused sunlight. I wanted to provide a real sense of the villa’s stillness, its peace and serenity, and, by capturing such moments in time, hopefully I evoke a sense of everlasting ‘timelessness’ for the generations to come – :
They serve another purpose too for, shivering here now as I am, in a dull, cold and snowy London, I only have to look at these pictures to be instantly transported and feel once again the warmth and tranquility of my island home…….Oh! Roll on spring!