A world devoid of colour - what is it all about?

February 28, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

Since the summer, I have become obsessed with a world devoid of colour. This is particularly odd given that I have synaesthesia. Taking away colour from someone with synaesthesia is almost impossible but that is what I have been trying to do, to myself. The result has been very interesting so far.

Fried Egg

For the last six months I have almost exclusively been using just two tubes of paint: a black one and a white one. I have been filtering all my photographs with black and white. I have been making videos in black and white. I have been drawing with just a black fine liner pen. 

I have found the experience quite liberating. Rather than colour dominating my art making, and the decisions associated with using colour, I have been considering in much more depth the effect of colour when it is extracted from the creative experience on shades of grey and other elements of a painting such as tone, depth, light, texture. These are elements that might get overshadowed when painting in colour. There is a huge amount of subtlety in the grey scale which I am just now beginning to appreciate.

As a by-product to this experiment, I find that I have an urge to surround myself in a monochrome world in my every day life. I need to know: why do we envisage a world lacking in colour as a world devoid of joy? Is that in fact true? I am finding a new richness and pleasure in my desire for a black and white world. Is that contradictionary?

I have found that painting objects in black and white has enabled me to see them with a new, rather esquisite, clarity. They are more tangible somehow, richer and more 'real' to me. Rather than translating black and white images into colour in my mind's eye, I am now translating coloured objects into black and white. 

The bigger question that I see coming from this is if you take away one element from an object, such as tangibility (show it online), texture (blur it, abstract it), colour (render it in monochrome) are you in fact giving it a new richness, a new 'tangibility' that it didn't have before?

Why do we assume that the 'prefect' image, or even the 'object' in its original form and within reach, is the best rendition of that object? What would Plato say about that?