White, A Study in Color
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

--Daniel 7:9

White is an achromatic color, with high brightness and zero hue. White light is actually an equal combination of all colors in the spectrum. This can be demonstrated by passing light through a spectrum and looking at the rainbow produced when breaking the rays of light apart. White can be seen when the object reflects all of the incoming light. White is common in nature, from the clouds overhead, to the dandelion seeds in the park, from the white underbelly of many fish to the sea gull that soars overhead. White is a source of camouflage for many animals. The white underside of a fish or bird makes them seem to disappear against the sky. In the frozen north, white hides the silver fox and the snow hare in the endless snow.

Symbolically, white has many meanings. It is the color purity, and thus used frequently in marriage ceremonies. Once, white was synonymous with beauty as only the wealthy were able to shield their skins from the sun. Now, as tans are more sought after, white skin is more associated with illness. Since our hair turns to white as we age, it is also considered to be the color of knowledge and wisdom. It is used repeatedly in scri pture to denote God's wisdom and righteousness, the purity of the believer who has been cleansed "white as snow" and even for disease (Numbers 12:10). Consider these other uses for the word white:
  • white noise
  • to whitewash the issue
  • to see the whites of someone's eyes
  • a black and white issue
  • The White House
  • whiteout conditions
  • to show the white feather, a symbol of cowardice
  • white flag of surrendor
  • white dove of peace
  • white rose
Erik Skjoldbjærg makes very interesting use of white in his Swedish film, Insomnia (later remade starring Robin Williams). While the remake is rather bland and loses most of the whole point, the original is a work of art. Caught in endless day, the star detective loses touch with himself and reality. A classic film noir, with white as a driving force.

Together, black and white denote a sharp contrast. Someone who sees things in black and white sees them clearly, with a definite sense of right and wrong in a given situation. They also provide sharp visual contrast, lending these colors well to eye-catching art displays.

Contrast Art

Cow, by Little Mouse
  • black construction paper
  • several hard boiled eggs
  • a pencil
  • glue
  • Peel the eggs. Break the shells up into tiny pieces. You will need to carefully remove the thin white membrane from the shell pieces.
  • Draw your picture on the paper in pencil.
  • Drizzle glue over your design.
  • Add the egg shells.
  • Allow to dry for several minutes and then gently shake off the extra egg shell.
  • Let the picture dry thoroughly and display!
Do you have any ideas on using white in art? Or do you have any outstanding literature, artwork, poetry or film that uses white in an interesting way? Please share!

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