Mixing Whites: Tube White is Merely the Beginning

White Studio Cat -- Mixing Whitesfor PaintingWhite cat, white wall, white clouds (and white words). Are any truly straight-from-the-tube white?

Is the bit of wall which is painted “exterior pure white” (but not the bit with a shadow falling on it) or is the glare from the sun behind a cloud (but might that not simply be camera glare/burnout and really sunlight is yellowish)?

What we so readily call “white” isn’t generally the same single white. As with all colours, there are variations, in tone (light/dark) and saturation (intensity). Reflected colours in the white, form shadow colour, cast shadow colour.

We easily learn to add white to a colour to lighten it — a lighter yellow, a lighter blue. But it’s harder somehow to switch my mind to start with white as the colour and add another to darken (relatively speaking) it — a vaguely yellowish white, a subtly blueish white.

Which leads to questions of when is it still a white and when is it a grey or pink or light yellow? Does it really matter?

Monet’s whites remain the benchmark for me. What’s yours?

The Manneporte (?tretat) by Claude Monet, 1883. Size: 65 x 81 cm. In the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

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