White is the most delicate of colours, quickly becoming dominated by any other. Take a pound of white pigment and add only a ¼ ounce of any other colour, and white will have yielded to reflect the tint of that other (In fact, most tubes of paint on the art store’s shelf have more white pigment in them than their labeled colour—using it as a filler and further demonstrating white’s deferential nature).
Despite its delicacy—or perhaps because of it—it is with white that we most clearly see the passing of time; as it yellows with age, or blackens under urban pollution, or reddens in the light of the setting sun. But, in its heart, white is rarely so effected by time: Strip the varnish, or apply soap to the grim, or come again in the morning, and white will once again demonstrate her original bright beauty.
When grinding a white pigment, it isn’t enough to just wipe the mulling-glass down, it’s necessary to grind it clean with sand. Only after this ritual is performed, will white contentedly rest by herself on glass. White is the most difficult pigment to have a long conversation with—always more interested in conversing with other colours than with the artist. And, while my instinct is to try to preserve her purity, this also reflects her most lovely quality: The ease in which she gives herself to others.
White is childlike, and I love seeing the earnest outpouring of herself towards her friends—even if in my heart I know I can’t truly be one of them.