Over the past few months I’ve received a few comments and questions related to working with Black and White (B&W) projects. I was a little surprised and delighted by some of the discussions we’ve had, so figured it was time to bring up the subject here.
Black or White: Does it matter what color you use when creating a negative space?
Absolutely not, contrary to some beliefs, not all negative space must be white or black. Negative space means simply that it is a solid color. So you can use whatever color or shade you wish be it black, white, red, gold, baby blue, metallic green, etc. It’s only limited by your imagination.
If you use only B&W, wouldn’t you simply get two colors when you pour?
Here is a recent pour I did using just B&W. Remember when you pour any two colors they will automatically mix creating new colors. Here you see black, white and a wide variety of shades in gray created by the pour. This looks just like a B&W photograph. It was created with layering equal amounts of black and white, with no silicone.
Do you have to use a pour cup to create a B&W pour?
No, as long as you are pouring your paint onto the canvas— it’s still pouring. Many artists will pour one color at a time. Keep in mind depending on how your pour each color; including what you do after you pour, is what will determine whether you have pure black and white or B&W with shades of gray. Here I poured black, then white, and simply pulled through with a plastic spoon.
If you want to use mainly B&W but with one other color for contrast, does it have to be a dark or bright color?
No, use you whatever color you wish. Here’s a sample of one done with B&W with light blue and a little left over pink. The pink barely shows on the side, but as you can see, you don’t need to go bold or dark, it can be light colors too.
What if I pour a B&W and then I don’t like it? Can I simply pour color onto it?
This is a tricky question. If you want to completely get rid of the B&W pour, then you will need to scrape off the paint, clean your canvas and start over. If you want to simply add a little color you can drizzle your preferred colors and create a swipe. If you wish to add color on top of the freshly poured B&W, just remember the entire pour will shift as you try to tilt the secondary colors you’ve just added.
Here, I had created a vertical pour with just B&W and decided I wanted to kick it up with some color. I drizzled some bright orange and then used a plastic spoon to swipe a couple of selected areas.
I love B&W but the above pour didn’t come out quite right. Lets face it, it looks like poo pouring. So I decided that area needed something to break up the visual imagery of bodily fluids. If I wanted to pour on top of this, then tilting the canvas again, it could have muddied things up and I would have lost some of the areas that I did want to keep. So in this instance the better choice was to add mini rings and let them dry without tilting. I could have also used skins thus keeping the rest of the pour intact.
B&W isn’t found in nature, so why would you want to recreate it?
Yes, it was a real discussion. Luckily it typically comes from a few friends who can only see the world through bright reds, violets and golds. I call them my Lucky Charms girls—rainbows everywhere. I was saddened to hear them say that as fellow artists, they associated B&W with negative connotations such as boring, old, lacking in passion, and unimaginative. Some of them refuse to use black— ever. To each their own, that’s what makes the world of art a beautiful place.
My favorite response is to show people these two pictures of the same tree in my front yard. The vibrant red tree was from a bright sunny day last August, and the virtually B&W was the same tree during an extremely heavy snowfall in February. Nothing has been done to either photo. The B&W photo appears to lack color due to the gray skies, falling snow, and the abnormally white background creating a purely natural B&W photograph. All natural—boom!
Can I use silicone if I am only using B&W?
Absolutely, but you don’t want to use it in both colors as you may have issues with the silicone ending up directly on the canvas, which can create holes in your dried painting. I also make sure sure I lay down a base coat on the canvas prior to pouring to prevent this from happening.
In this final painting I used one drop of coconut oil in the black and I layered the pour cup with 1 part white to 2 parts black. This was a small pour, so I used a tablespoon to fill my pour cup: 1 tbsp white – 2 tbsp black, repeat till desired amount in cup. The combination of layering and small amount of silicone provided crazy cells.
The next time you feel the desire to create something new, go back to the basics in B&W. You might be pleasantly surprised in the order and disorder of a natural black and white pour.
Please share in Comments Below:
Have you ever created a black and white pour? What were your challenges? What did you like about it?
Since she began creating art in 2007, Tina Swearingen’s focus has evolved from repurposed conceptual art into the creativity and flow of acrylic pouring. Her pours are inspired by the movement and colors of Southern Arizona’s amazing thunderstorms, and the majestic beauty of the Pacific Northwest, which she now calls home.
14 thoughts on “Talking Black and White Projects in Acrylic Pouring”
I love the effects of a black and white pour, i am currently pouring on framed mirrors and where the mirror shines through its quite striking.
In pouring black & White, I have found that the density of pigment in the acrylic paint, especially in the White, is very important to maintain a stricter black and white composition, without so much mixing and getting a gray composition. Of course if one wants the grays, then it probably doesn’t matter….
What is the best way to keep the black black and the white white so there is no grey?
I often read about ‘scraping’ the canvas. I have many paintings I do not like. Can you give me directions what to do with dried canvases?
I would also be interested to find out, how to reuse a painted canvas. I have tried to pour over them and create something new, but as it dried up, the prior paint showed through.
Hello caddie I put one or 2 layers of gesso (black or white) depending on the colors i want to use on the renewed canvas .Hope my comment will be helpfull.bye .Do from Paris????
I’m a bit late to the party here, but just yesterday I removed 2 layers of gesso, topped with 2 old, dried pours from a large canvas by warming the paint with a hairdryer. I started in a corner and broke through the warmed paint with a metal scraper (careful not to damage the canvas), and then started peeling off the thick “skin”. It took some muscle and patience, but after about two hours I was back to a virgin canvas. This was a large canvas, so a smaller canvas will take you less time. I then gessoed it and today it’s ready for another pour.
I can’t achieve large cells using silicone, I will try bit of coconut oil a drop or two.
I am still learning, do you have better idea? Thank you Magdalena.
I’m really new to acrylic pouring, and have always loved the black/grey/white monochromatic look with one color popping out. Will have to try this!
Good answer from you about black and white and boring. I like just adding one vibrant color and it becomes dramatic. There is a lot of black and white in the interior design magazines.
I really enjoyed this article…probably my favorite of all articles! So much good informative presented in an interesting and informative way. I’m anxious to try all of these techniques! Thanks!
I have been using two different types of silicone KY and a silicone spray and can not get any cells any ideas?
Black and white are a classic look and one I comeback to often. The interaction between the two can create some rich patterns l’ve not found in other combos. Not sure if it is the satin White House paint I use or something else but feather like blooms are welcome experiences!
This blog looks good and is very informative. I learn new points that help me increase my knowledge about black and white projects. It is extremely helpful for me.