Sorry about last night's post. It was about the same old thing heard on the radio from one of the many war-torn areas of the world which blackened a black mood even blacker, and I thought, 'nothing ever changes'. What I should have considered is that it might not be the best thing to start anyone off on a Monday morning.
Talking of black, have you heard of the paint that Anish Kapoor has filched from the Ministry of Defence to incorporate into an artwork? A British invention (hooray!), this paint absorbs 99.6 percent of all light, and is not really what we think of as the 'colour' black, it's just that you cannot see it. It is not a pigment, it is an arrangement of tubular molecules which let in photons, but does not let (most of) them out.
One of the most impressive qualities it has (apparently) is that, when applied to fabric which is then folded, you cannot see the folds no matter how close you get to them. You can see why this stuff was developed by the military - well, you can understand it anyway.
Only last Friday, I was trying to teach someone the basics of using primary colours to tint new stonework so that it blends in with the surrounding old, as in camouflage. This is the only reliable way I can make any money these days - giving away trade secrets.
When using cheap pigments, black is added as a last resort and at the last minute. The addition of cheap black to any mix is the quickest way of killing the colour altogether, when the thing you are trying to do is keep it as vibrant as possible. 'Payne's Grey' is the closest pigment you can get to a black which does not contaminate, but that's another story.
The first thing this lad had to understand was the difference between 'hue' and 'tone'. The hue should not be killed just because you are darkening the tone, but it is very difficult not to turn everything into mud by adding black. I did mention Pointillism, whereby pure colour is applied in dots and mixed by the eye - or brain - from a distance, but this was a bit too much for him to take on at this point. It was a much easier concept to grasp when coloured photographs were printed using three-colour, offset litho.
The next - and by far the most difficult - notion he had to take on is that there is no such thing as 'true black'. Blank stares. Equally, there is no such thing as a true white either - I suppose a mirror is the closest we get to true white here on Earth. More blank stares.
I had three different pots of black powder pigment in front of him, and I pointed out the difference between each of them. This one is a warm black, this one is a cool black, this one is a disturbing mixture of each - a purple black. If any of them were a true black, you would not be able to spot the difference in hue. More blank stares.
Okay. What makes a dark night dark? The absence of light. Things don't turn black when you turn the lights out... or do they?
No, this isn't for Monday morning either, unless you are planning on painting something black.