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The Color White: Pure, Cold, and Clean

Published Jun. 22nd 2007

White Clouds

White isn’t a primary, secondary, or tertiary color. Scientifically speaking, it’s actually the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum of light.

What the color white means to us psychologically:
The color white is usually defined by what it’s not—white should have no color in it and no markings or flaws.

To some people, that makes white very sterile, clean, and uninviting. They see white like an operating room, too antiseptic to be comfortable.

To others, white simply suggests a no frills, plain-Jane style—function over style.

Snow treeWhite can also seems cold to us as well. Snow and ice are a brilliant white, which has a powerful impact on how we view its “temperature.”

And although it’s probably more of a cultural thing, white is often viewed as the color of moral purity and goodness.

Is white a “girl color” or “boy color?”
White definitely has no gender bias whatsoever.

White in society:
There’s nothing better than plain vanilla ice cream, am I right? Especially with homemade apple pie. And even if you prefer chocolate, vanilla ice cream will always be is the classic ice cream treat around the world.

Another classic, the plain white t-shirt, is a staple of wardrobes today. But watch out—you really don’t want to spill ketchup or mustard (or anything) on a clean white shirt.

Pigments that make up white paint:
Take a look at your white paint and you’ll most likely see one of these two ingredients: Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide.

Common white oil paints:
White is white—you don’t really want any variation in the color. As a result, there aren’t a lot of options. The two types of white paint you’ll find are Titanium White and Zinc White, after whichever pigment they use.

Famous white paintings:
When it comes to all white paintings, Rauschenberg’s three and seven panel paintings are the ones I think of.

The title really says it all: White Painting (Three Panel).

White Painting (Three Panel)

Today's list of resources will help anyone interested in learning about color theory or the use of color in art at a college level. It’s also the fourth post in my series on getting an art education for free. (Here are my first, . . . read more

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