Are White Bits Really Wrong In Visual Art?

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TUF
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31 Dec 2018, 7:29 am

I tried googling this but (predictably, I guess) it came up with stuff about race.

I'm not an artist trying for a gallery, I just draw and paint for my own sake and for the sake of entertaining my family. However I am a perfectionist and want to get things right.

When I was at school, we were graded on art and we were told that white bits were bad and marked down for them. What I mean by white bits is leaving any part of our exercise books blank and not colouring it all in.

However, white is a colour. It exists in the real world. It might happen to be the colour of paper but it's also the colour of things such as snow.

Is it really wrong in visual art to have this represented by the paper?

If so, how do I represent it? Not at all? Or using the material I'm using for the rest? In a mixed media piece, does using the paper become OK? I've tried to use things like pastels and paints in the past but all it does is get dirty and get intermingled with the colours around it.

Am I being aspie about this 'rule' or is it a real rule of art? Did anyone else hear the rule growing up? Is it something that applies only to kids and not adults?



Black Spot
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01 Jan 2019, 7:53 am

What a dumb ass school. Watercolour require you to leave paper to make white, but it can be part of the design; negative shapes are just as important as the object being painted.

Now saying that, white does tend to take on a smidgen of the colours surrounding it.



ezbzbfcg2
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01 Jan 2019, 8:02 am

Black Spot wrote:
What a dumb ass school. Watercolour require you to leave paper to make white, but it can be part of the design; negative shapes are just as important as the object being painted.

Now saying that, white does tend to take on a smidgen of the colours surrounding it.


Yeah, but with watercolor, the whole sheet of paper is glossed over with water before even painting, meaning that even the "white bits" aren't totally bare, untouched paper.

That said, art is art. Leaving a spot blank is just as much a part of the artistic process as coloring it in.



TUF
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02 Jan 2019, 5:21 am

Thanks for this.
Yeah, I always saw it as a waste of time. Nobody would concretely explain to me how to stop or that they didn't like to see blank paper just they didn't like to see white bits.
So I always rebelled and left the paper blank.
As an adult doing art, I've figured out that painting things white or using white pastel is ok but it just feels a waste of time. Because it's not changing the colour. So I've started to wonder if blank paper is ok.
I have noticed that white paint is stronger but it also ends up with all the other colours merged into it unless I do it first. And not just into the paper but also on the pastel/in the paint itself :(
I probably sound really amateur but I'm ok with that, visual art is just for my pleasure and so I can create the other world visually.



Black Spot
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02 Jan 2019, 8:45 pm

ezbzbfcg2 wrote:
Yeah, but with watercolor, the whole sheet of paper is glossed over with water before even painting, meaning that even the "white bits" aren't totally bare, untouched paper.


Not always; there are so many ways of using water colours. Take Sargent for example. Yes, he used white gouache, but only when he changed his mind or had painted over a highlight.

http://arthistorynewsreport.blogspot.com/2017/06/sargent-watercolours.html



funeralxempire
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05 Jan 2019, 10:46 pm

Generally it's frowned upon to leave parts unpainted with opaque paints. With transparent paints like watercolours you can still use very faint washes to ensure the region is 'painted' but still basically white. There's a reason there's white crayons, pastels and pencil crayons though, to help ensure highlights have the same general appearance as the rest of the work (as well as to expand your options when creating pale tones). With mixed-media it shouldn't matter as much, since if there's several textures, why can't paper be one?


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TUF
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06 Jan 2019, 7:35 am

Black Spot, I really liked that art :) I hadn't seen it before.

(People seem to assume I love only postmodern art as this is my favourite sort of literature but my favourite sort of art is more Realist).

That makes sense, to keep the medium the same if the picture isn't mixed media.

I think it's an NT/aspie thing. When I was a kid, I was more literal in my language than today so when someone said 'white bits' I didn't realise they meant 'blank bits'.

Both good schools gave me this advice. Good primary and good secondary.**

Then I stopped doing art (visual art) at school when I went to the bad secondary school. I started doing dance for a bit* but the other girls made it risqué and I was quite young for my age. Not sure why they were allowed to... so I switched over to doing drama instead.

*In my good secondary, I was good at country dancing and I also enjoyed ballet and line dancing outside of school hours and went on to enjoying line dancing and dancing based on dances from musicals as an adult.

** I went to four schools. Bad primary didn't want an autistic kid there and tried to get me excluded for being a kid. Mum pulled me out before they could exclude me for things like eating paint as a four year old. Bad secondary, I got bullied in and the teachers didn't do anything about it.



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16 Jan 2019, 5:01 pm

The point about art is that you can make up your own rules. If you think it is better to leave the white bits blank, then leave them.

The difficult thing is to figure out if it really is better. That's up to you.
I recommend looking at A LOT of paintings and trying to learn to paint like them. By learning different styles, you develop skill -
Skill is an old word, ot comes from the nordic languages and means the ability to tell the difference.
So get skilled, and learn the difference between good and bad.
And then you'll know if for what you're doing, it is right to leave the white bits blank.

I read this quote somewhere, some time:
Art and morals have something in common: you have to draw the line somewhere!


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20 Jan 2019, 2:18 am

TUF wrote:
Is _____ really wrong in visual art?

NO. NOTHING is wrong in visual art. Or any other kind of art for that matter.