Sunday, March 9, 2008


Gray or grey ...describes any shade between black and white. Collectively, white, black, and the range of greys between them are known as achromatic colors or neutral colors. (Wikipedia)

Artists think of colors in terms of their value on a scale of dark to light. Without color this scale goes from black to white, with grays in the transition zone. Paintings done using highly contrasting values are generally more dramatic and interesting than paintings done exclusively in the middle values, although their are exceptions.

Stark contrasts, black and white = drama and interest

McConnell House-Cape May NJ

Gradients of gray = less drama and less interest

Hughs Street House-Cape May NJ

We live in a complex world and a complex society, locally, nationally, and globally, with extensive interconnections and overlapping. It would be beneficial if we could identify universal truths on which policies and decisions could be made, a world cast in black and white. But that is not the case; we live in an environment with many shades of gray. And since grays are not as interesting, public discourse tends to focus on the black and the white. This is especially true in the broadcast media, and in political speeches. It is easier to avoid the grays, they’re more complicated and take more effort to articulate. Never mind that they are more likely to be significant and/or applicable to whatever the issue might be. Instead we get: “you are either for us or against us”, you’re a hawk or a dove”, If your for the war your patriotic, if your not, your not a patriot”, labels and sound bites, in glorious black and white! You will have difficulty finding grays in major broadcast journalism (NPR excluded), tragically, even in the political “talk shows and the recent primary debates. To find the grays it is necessary to turn to selective specialty and scholarly journals and magazines, those with and without an ideological ax to grind.
Gray = Nuance and requires that we excercise out capacities to think and discern,l something our politicians and paritsan extremist want us to avoid doing.

Hughs st. house
McConnell house


Villager said...

The good thing about monochrome works is they force us to pay more attention to values and contrasts in order to bring ou the shapes; This post is a great example.
Also, on your previous post, Splendor on Rt 45 was just...well, splendid!

madre-terra said...

And I thought that my husband was the original philosophical artist.
You two are peas in a pod.
I love what you have to say.

Abby Creek Art said...

Great "grey" post, Bill. Grey is a good thing!

Really love your two houses...I don't think they would be as good in color in this instance. The grey is just as beautiful here.