Color is Easy, Black and White is Hard?

I have a friend who once said to me “color is easy, black and white is hard.” I must have looked confused because she added “to look at.”

Then I realized exactly what she meant. We see in color, so we tend to take what we see for granted. We don’t notice the details. So, when we see something in black and white, we work harder looking at it.

We see the detail we don’t pay much attention to when we are looking at something in color. We work at looking, therefore we see more.

It’s also why many artists who work in color will create value studies for a painting. They do small “paintings” in black and white focusing on the values—the lights and darks—they will use; where they place them will make a better and more pleasing composition for the finished painting.

This is why I love working in black and white. Seeing and drawing the values from the lightest lights to the darkest darks and all the values in between, including the very subtle changes.

I think it’s wonderful when people who own my drawings tell me “every time I look at your drawing, I see something I hadn't noticed before and I love it.”

I smile because, if for example the drawing is of their home, it is the details that make it their home and not someone else’s—the beauty in the details. Two reasons why I create every drawing--value and detail.

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