Sunday, 14 December 2008

Study of 'Blacks'.

The Magpie is said to be black and white, but her 'black' feathers shine with blues and purples. The 'black' Dor Beetle shines with iridescent turquoise and purples.
The Australorp chicken is said to be black but it's feathers gleam with greens and blues.
The Corvus, (Crow, rook or raven), are black - or are they?.
'Corvus' Etching by Julia Manning.

COLOUR STUDY Terry Frost. 'Blacks'.

Colour Analysis from Nature. Terry Frost. Scolar Press.

“Being interested in abstraction, in Constructivism and in the experience of being around St. Ives, led me to deal with painting which was the result of walking, breathing the air and lying flat on our backs, ‘being intimate with the landscape’ ” – “in town the harbour, the streets the roof tops – geometrical division, space, movement and so on.” p.161.
"Roger Hilton and I were struggling to flatten things out, to accept that we were working on a flat surface. We wanted just flat shapes and colour. If you keep a colour flat, then you’ve got to find a shape that will hold it flat, therefore you are involved with proportion and relationship to the next colour you put on”. Terry Frost.
Although these statements are a deviation from his study of 'blacks', I was interested in the breakdown of landscape into geometry; flat shapes and colour. It struck me just how much bright colours are changed when seen in small areas with the luscious 'darks', just splashes of colour with 'black'. -
"There is no such colour as ‘black’ or ‘white’. Both are an amalgam or all colours, of light. There are matt blacks, glossy blacks, soft blacks, blue blacks, purple blacks, green blacks, maroon blacks. Each ‘black’ affects the colour juxtaposing it. Is a bright colour, say burnt orange, more powerful when placed in small splashes next to ‘black’ or a blue than when presented as a large area of colour on it’s own? This is one area I want to explore".

In Terry Frost's studies of blacks. P.179. He talks about: -

“Colour in acrylic
Colour in oil
On flat
On round
In stripes
In verticals
In curves
In harmony
In discord
In contrast
Through all intensities

The possibilities of
A yellow walk
A lying down sky
A smiling black
A soft black
A tight black
A fat black
A mean black
A blue black
A red black”

I was also interested in his use of flat colour and abstract form.

“The love of colour has to be real, in fact, like love. And it must be concerned with reason, with the logical extension of a colour to its breaking point in order to discover the relations of colour and form, and together a final totality and authority” Terry Frost

Terry Frost says, “ It is a question of reacting via the eyes through the heart and head for a full sensation. It is not a momentary sensation alone, for, from my experience; I see better the next time. It’s an additive experience; it’s a sort of cleansing process, so that each colour builds up more of its own spiritual value, its own being."

“Just to think in terms of colour is enough to set the soul alight. This colour without shape – in the spirit. Shapes are known to people by words but colour can make its own shape and exist in its own right”.

Yellows, Through paintings and black, p.186

The narrator says, “At Reading, Terry Frost asked 60 students to mix a black from red, yellow and blue. He wanted them to learn to mix oil colour cleanly and with a set aim in mind. Having mixed their different blacks, from the warm side until it broke to red and the same with blue, green and ochre, each student was asked to choose their mid-black, their blackest black. No two were the same. They made a mural of the blacks and this led Terry to a series of black paintings.”
A page of Terry Frost's black studies.

Terry recalls the words of the great gardener Gertrude Jekyll:

"What a wonderful range of colour there is in black alone to the trained colour eye. There is the dull brown-black of soot, and the velvety brown-black of the bean-flower’s blotch; to my own eye, I have never found anything so entirely black in a natural product as the patch on the lower petals of Iris Iperica. Is it not Ruskin who says of Velasquez, that there is more colour in his black than in another painter’s whole palette.”

A beautiful 'black' flower - Bloom Magazine.
Terry says; “I learned to mix my colours, to mix red, yellow and blue to make black, and if you do that, you find there are as many blacks as there are yellows. A lot of people don’t realise that; they think black is just black, but black, as the old poem says, is the container of all colour.”

Later he says: “I wouldn’t have painted the ‘Through Blacks’ or the ‘Through greys’ if I hadn’t insisted on the students finding out how many greys they could make or how many blacks, you see”.

AF "But you never told the students that you can just chuck a bit of red in the black. They had to mix it all out of red, yellow and blue, but you can actually just use spectrum black and put some red in it, can’t you"?

TF When you are in a bit of a hurry, that’s O.K. There are times when its right to do that but it doesn’t work in a poetic sense when you’re trying to stretch your imagination and your mixture of colour together to get your concept out. It’s a different thing. It’s not to do with trying to write a poem in black and it took me bloody weeks, all those fifteen different blacks from red, yellow and blue.”
A 'black' rose. - Bloom magazine.
I am quite excited about experimenting with creating 'blacks' from scratch on silk. How will they respond to a shiny crepe backed satin silk, or the matt finish of crepe de chine silk? Or even the translucence of crepe georgette silk?

I was interested in a quote in Terry Frost's book, (above) from Gasch.

“The artist should represent his own interior world, the visual counterpart of a poetic mythology. He argues that the interior is not pure fantasy because there is no such thing as pure imagination. It must feed on something, which is necessarily reality. The imagined world can become as real as the reality which kindled it….”

You could say that the artists world is always an inner world, a world of deep cognitive discovery and imagination. So, is my way of working with ‘Zen’ meditation any different? I wonder if it is. Although working in meditation, the 'unconscious' feeds from something ‘conscious’ and thus becomes part of reality. I am planning to try to work from a deeper space within, working on larger pieces hanging vertically on the wall.
I have been sampling my own 'blacks' by mixing equal proportions of various yellow, blues and reds. So far, the colours I have achieved have been gorgeous but rather pale. One black in particular, has worked well, a deep, warm 'midnight' black achieved by mixing yellow, red and navy. Tomorrow, I intend to sample further and show my results.

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