Life Is Never Black And White

#WorldWatercolorGroup Day 11 - Black & White Monochromatic Watercolor of Two Glasses in Payne's Grey - #doodlewash

Though I’ve often created doodlewashes with only two colors, I’ve never tried to go fully monochromatic. I adore color, so it’s everything I can do to avoid using it, but I gave it a shot today with these two glasses in only Payne’s Grey. It was a really fun exercise and helped me focus on the tonal values rather than get distracted by all the reflected color I always see. That said, I really wanted to splash in some reflected color, but decided to leave it alone and keep it as is in honor of the prompt for today. In real life, of course, everything has a hint of color in it. Things are never entirely monochromatic and even shadows hold secrets of various and sometimes unexpected hues. Curiously, when I was glancing at this particular doodlewash my mind added in bits of a pale orange to the reflected bottom of the glass on the right. There’s no other color there, but my memory of how glasses should look added it in for me. No matter how plain something seems, there are always colors to be found.

I can’t imagine a world that didn’t have color in it. Even in this doodlewash, I couldn’t resort to Lamp Black and had to go with a bit of a tinted dark, preferring to see the world in shades of grey. I think my whole philosophy on life is much like this. There’s always more to discover than just what’s on the surface and nothing is as certain as it seems at first. This ambiguity in the world bugs some people, but I find it really fascinating. Each situation has a thousand different options on where it could go next. Each person has a story that hasn’t been fully told yet. There’s always more to learn. This is what keeps life interesting and makes getting up each day worth it. It’s the texture of that fabric on that chair in the corner. The one I’ve looked at a thousand times, but for the first time today I realized there are tiny specs of orange there. This isn’t a groundbreaking realization, but simply something wonderfully new that makes my normal environment feel just a bit more alive with wonder.

Perhaps that’s why I always gravitate toward painting ridiculously common things. I love taking a piece of food or a couple of glasses and looking at them as if it’s the first time. Each time I sketch something, I see something new that I didn’t realize was there before. And I love the comfort of knowing that even my everyday world, though far from exotic, is filled with beauty and new mysteries to uncover. I don’t always sketch from life, as I care more about the idea of the thing and I’m not trying to create a documentary about it. So, yeah, my art journal is a bit weird in that it happens via these posts and is a bit more of a collaboration than just my own personal journey. My hope is that these objects spinning in space without any real context will make you think of stories of your own. Wonderful memories that take you back to thoughts of people and places that matter to you. Or just feelings that you can’t quite twist into a full recollection, but make you feel happy just the same. After all, life is never black and white.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup Day 11 - Black & White Monochromatic Watercolor of Two Glasses in Payne's Grey - #doodlewash

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. creatingincolors 6 years ago

    I really like this monochromatic painting, and your accompanying thoughts too!

  2. Laura (PA Pict) 6 years ago

    I always marvel at your ability to render glass and reflective surfaces. I am very impressed. I think you made a huge success of the challenge to work in monochrome. I find that I either enjoy working with a very limited palette (often just black or grey ink) or I go pretty wild with colour.

    • Author

      Thanks, Laura! 😃💕 And I totally agree with that!! I love to work with just 2 or 3 colors. It’s so much fun. And when I decide to add more, it’s never just a 4th! hehe…. best to just go wild!

  3. debiriley 6 years ago

    lovely. I’ve never looked at shot glasses quite like that… and the shadows are so wonderfully textured, I love them.
    This is what makes art so absolutely intriguing….. each us, will see our subjects through unique lenses. My brother also an artist, is the polar opposite of me. My sister paints, and also is different again. The fluctuations are endlessly fascinating. Great post Charlie !!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Debi! 😃💕 I know!! I love all the different variations and how different artists can interpret the exact thing so uniquely. It’s makes this journey so amazing!

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    You take the simplest of ideas and elaborate upon them to find an undercurrent of wonder. Every dark space must light up when you approach. It must be invigorating to be in your presence.

  5. Your shadow is stunning, captured beautifully…I do love you ability to paint glass, monochrome worked great, a fab challenge 😀

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! 😃💕 I don’t know what it is with me and glass, but we have a fun time together! Lol So glad you enjoyed this experiment!

  6. snigdhadotcom 6 years ago


  7. Heide 6 years ago

    What a lovely meditation on color, Charile! You’ve reminded me of a conversation I had with an artist friend many years ago about why he always wore black. “I don’t think of it as black,” he said. “I think of it as wearing all the colors at the same time.” Your lovely painting has beautifully captured the similar enigma of how something as clear as glass can still have so much dimension and complexity. Nicely done!

    • Author

      Thanks, Heide! 😃💕 hehe… I love that comment… how true! I often where black so I might have to work that into a conversation! hehe

  8. Elizabeth 6 years ago

    Sometimes color can be a distraction. I took a class in black & white photography. (Yeah, it was film photography, using a dark room, the whole bit]. As I got into it, I went to the library looking at the works of early photographers such as Stieglitz, Atget, Brassai etc. and found them lovely and haunting. When the instructor told me my photos had a European look, I figured it was the influence of these master photographers. Black & white can be VERY expressive.

    • Author

      Oh wow! That’s so cool, Elizabeth! 😃💕 I also spent a few years working in black and white film photography (dark room and all! it was fun!). But do have to admit to appreciated digital when it came to my wallet! lol My favorite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson… loved the images of everyday life he captured with such interest and emotion.

      • Elizabeth 6 years ago

        Bresson is a favorite of mine as well. His writings (example “The Decisive Moment”) make good reading. He liked, as do you, the extraordinary-ness of of the every day life.

        To pick a favorite photographer is not something I can do, unless I get to change it every few weeks. I’m coming down off a Robert Demachy (love what he did in the developing stage, his prints look like paintings) binge, and moving into Brassai, especially his night photography. Now I have to learn how to shoot the night digitally. Had to give up and go digital almost 3 years ago. I revisit old favorites often, and add new ones.

        • Author

          I was so into photography several years ago… it was my first experience blogging. I just posted photos and titled them… no long posts full of writing so it was easier. hehe 😊 But I definitely internalized that “Decisive Moment” and fell in love with the extraordinariness of the ordinary for sure!

  9. berolahragacomblog 6 years ago

    Good post!

  10. memadtwo 6 years ago

    Extra great shadows! And you describe perfectly the feeling of seeing something you’ve looked at hundreds of times as if for the first time. A great and strange sensation. (K)

    • Author

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, I love that sensation… a bit like being a kid again. It’s always nice to know that no matter how old we get, we still have more to discover.

  11. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    This painting conveys so much about the glass that I would not have thought you used only one color. Beautiful work.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 years ago

      Aww thanks! 😃💕 Yeah, I really love trying to see what I can do with a limited palette. It’s good practice!

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