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Less is More

March 8, 2010

Black and white were on my mind today as I thought about inspirations for my friend Margaret, who is working on a piece for a black and white show. So I started looking around my art files for things either in just black and white or with a limited palette.

I love a limited palette. This one is almost black and white, but with just a hint of color.

“Study in Contrasts” – Acrylic on Mat Board
8 x 8″

This one is a painting that I did with urban grunge in mind.

“City Limit” – Acrylic on Canvas
20 x 20″

I wanted to keep it simple with this one, and think it was successful.

“Untitled” – Acrylic and Newsprint on Cradled Masonite
8 x 8 x 2″

Sometimes less is more. Do you like to challenge yourself by using only one or two colors with black and white? And if so, would you like to share? You can put your link into a comment so we can keep the discussion going.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 6:03 pm

    How lovely. These are great paintings.

    I do like to work in limited palettes as well – sometimes I just can’t stop working in yellows.

    I wonder – have you done any mono-printing? These paintings remind me a little of that type of printing. Fun!


    • March 11, 2010 8:28 am

      Thank you Jennifer. Yes, I have done a lot of mono-printing and go back to it from time to time. I do like the feeling of spontaneity with it

  2. March 8, 2010 6:16 pm

    Wow…it sounds too unreal to be true, but I did two paintings yesterday(Sunday) with white as the dominant component and one other hue as a mixed tint within the composition. Sorry, no black…yet!
    Must be something about Spring and renewal that makes us want to simplify! 🙂

    • March 11, 2010 8:29 am

      Maybe so, DJ! Certainly everything that comes with the beginning of a new year and approaching spring. Try some black — you might like it! 🙂

  3. Sherrill Pearson permalink
    March 8, 2010 7:29 pm

    These are really smashing Martha. Great work.

  4. March 8, 2010 7:48 pm

    Oh my Martha! I love these paintings! The more limited and grungier the better for me. 🙂 Very nice examples.

    I do love working with a limited pallet at times. There have been times that I’ve used black and white and added one other color just to play with the focus in the painting. I’ve done this in oils as well as acrylics. Love the effects and just don’t feel one can go wrong with a limited pallet. I agree…many times Less Is More!

    Thanks for sharing these for us to enjoy. 🙂

    • March 11, 2010 8:33 am

      Glad you like them, Itaya. I agree with you that you can’t go wrong with such an approach. Sometimes it’s good to get back to that.

  5. March 8, 2010 11:36 pm

    Wonderful paintings!
    I once read that Kandinsky limited his colors in his late period. He created a palette of 6-10 self-composed colors and discarded what was left. I found that this recipe works fine! I compose e.g. burgundy — greenish ochre — bottle green — broken orange — blue violet — dark blue grey — brillant turquoise — and stick to these (without mixing them into one another) during the whole painting process on pictures of geometrical abstraction.
    This is a completely different method from using e.g. black, yellow and white and making a palette by blending these components. But the effect is harmony as a result of either method.

    • March 11, 2010 8:35 am

      Eva, I love your color choices! I also love that you can achieve a signature palette that way. Your colors are rich and satisfying to the senses.

  6. March 9, 2010 9:04 am

    A limited palette can actually be quite freeing, especially when one is accustomed to painting in vibrant color (I speak for myself here, also).

    I’m currently working on a series of grays, and also using grays with a bit of turquoise in the composition.

    Often times, giving ourselves boundaries in our work helps to nurture growth and to spawn new ideas.

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