It's March, it’s still winter but the light has changed, and that feels good, the mornings are brighter, and the days are longer. The color white is about light, there is no absolute white, there are the many shades that reflect what is around it. This time of year, the reference to “winter white” is to a warm color, whether in fashion, or home or art, the yellow undertones feel cozy and at the same time fresh, just like the March light. Cool whites have a touch of blue, and there are many shades in between. The beauty of white is that it’s uplifting, it’s literally lighter than the heavy tones we are accustomed to all winter. The beauty of having white in artworks around you, is that it brings that lightness home.
In reflecting on projects we completed over the past few months, there were many that included neutral artworks. In Miami, our client wanted her apartment to reflect the calm and serenity of the ocean outside her windows. The palette is a warm white, allowing the outdoors in, the blues of sky and ocean. This commissioned painting, Driven by Life, by Kerri Rosenthal, sets the quiet tone in the living room (see above).
Photographer Barbara Erdmann captures patterns in nature. In Mesh Diptych, the many shades of neutrals bring subtle color and depth into the den
White is the most common color in nature - sunlight, snow, milk, chalk, limestone and sand among them, and its influence on artists is endless.A few more abstract photos of patterns in sand from Erdmann. Ripples
A seashell, large and abstract from Shelli Breidenbach, installed in the entry to our clients Hamptons home.
the subtlety of a horizon from Elena Lyakir, Harmony
or a pair of Lyakir's modern botanicals from the Details Series, in a beautiful installation featured in Elle Decor.
a morning sky, Sound Portrait 1, from Stefan Radtke, in a clients master bedroom by Fountain Interiors.
A white horse subtly photographed by equestrian photographer Shelli Breidenbach installed in a family room by Sam Allen Interiors. The whites in the photo are further accentuated by the decor, the texture of the natural colored wallcovering, pattern of the carpet and orange fabric and accessories.
This artwork from artist Wendy Shalen is made from natural handmade paper pulp. She makes impressions of antique lace creating pattern, texture, and depth. The resulting artisanal work is a modern interpretation of a piece of her personal history, it’s made from her grandmothers lace.
I love how this piece looks installed in the home of designer Debbie Gottlieb of Finelines Interiors' dining room, a mix of antique furnishings with modern accents.
Layers of white create complexity. Another white on white artwork, but a more modern approach and installation, is this sculptural artwork, Driven, by Jeffrey Terreson, in an all-white dining area. The whites becomes richer when balanced by the dark wood of the dining table and natural beams. The artwork reflects the light from the expanse of windows, changing with the time of day.
I recently saw an exhibition of 85 year old artist Robert Ryman's work at the Dia:Chelsea. Ryman, a minimalist, has been creating primarily monochromatic square white paintings for over 60 years, light is integral to his work. He says, "Light is extremely important, how it's shown on the painting and whether it comes from the front or from the side and whether its a soft light or a bright light. It all activates with real light". His work is very subtle, from all white, Untitled, circa 1962to mostly white with hints of other hues. (Untitled) Background Music, circa 1960
These all white paintings are contemporary, but the discussion is not about modern art. "The first of all single colors is white … We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for the earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness.” — Leonardo Da Vinci
Artists convey the complexity of whites in different ways. Like Ryman, the subtlety in these paintings includes many other colors, in line and texture, yet they are still quiet. This abstract painting, Never Late, by Anne Raymond reflects the colors in the updated traditional living room.
White represents clarity, freshness. neutrality. Our response to this, to the color white, according to color theorist Kate Smith of Sensational Color, is to encourage mental clarity, clear the clutter and enable fresh beginnings.
With the crisp and brighter March light, we'll start to feel prepared for and look forward to the beginning of spring. I know its a few more week, but it's feeling close!