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White Hot

Let’s get technical (sung to Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”) White is a color, although it is also an optical illusion. The color white is merely a perception which is evoked by light (the color white does not exist without light) that stimulates all three types of color sensitive cells in the human eye. These cells are actually all stimulated in nearly equal amount and with high brightness compared to the surroundings in order to produce the color white.  An object whose surface reflects back most of the light it receives (opaque) and does not alter its color will appear white. Most sources of light and incandescence also appear white. The etymology of the word “white” in most languages usually also means “bright”, “reflected”, and “light”. Clearly ancient civilizations understood the concept that the color white was similar to lightwaves way before science caught up.

When white appears in nature (such as clouds, and snow) the color is actually only water crystals reflecting back the light of the sun. Remember, even the moon at night (which often appears white) is reflecting back the color of the sun.

Rather than delve into the man-made connotations of the color (purity, chastity, holiness, weddings, mournings, et. al.), I think of white merely as an extension of the sun and life, and the light provided by stars. This is its natural state, devoid of context.

Image and furniture via Ikea. White furniture in a white living room can create an illusion of space.

Both of the above images are from the same home. And, technically speaking, if you were to view these white spaces against a dark backdrop, the brightness would be even more obvious!  White allows deeper hued objects (such as vases, books, and flowers) to pop at full potential. The contrast between the white and the tchotchkes allows each object to be put on a pedestal. It also allows each object to seem purposely chosen.  Image found HERE.

White does not have to be minimal! Stick to a color palette of three (burgundy, brown, and white) for a lush and deep feeling. Photo by Art Gray, New York Loft styled by White Webb.

A shabby chic inspired white room replete with reclaimed barn wood floors. Also, the varying materials in this room force the eye to look at all objects and all dimensions. Designer Darryl Carter transformed this blank space. Benjamin Moore’s “Simply White” is used throughout the apartment but to add the illusion of airiness, openness, and area. Image photographed by Gordon Beall and found HERE.

Amaridian, has teamed up with Cape Town’s Design Africa to showcase and promote excellence in African design. The images is from the showcase of African design in NYC, products by Mud Studio, Ronel Jordaan, Tekura Design and Diallo Design. White does not need to have stark geometric shapes, and uber clean lines. Here the color white is romantic, trivial, and subdued. Image found HERE. 

Did I mention how important windows (and thus light) is for white? The above loft has a very 1970’s design aesthetic! Image found HERE.

Ebony and Ivory! Black, Red, and White is a classic color scheme that is never wrong. Image found HERE.

I could actually see enjoying laundering in this space. I have never felt invited in by a laundry room, but here’s to firsts! I bet spotting stains in this environment is super easy. I also love the light, pine wood accents. Image found HERE.

Romantic, antique, luxe. Ivory, Cream, and White (keeping it in the color family). Achromatic works. Image found HERE.

Shabby, Romantic, Charming, Country style. Image found HERE.

I spy a Birkin Bag and a Saarinen Table and a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed Barcelona Chair. Image found HERE. 

Neutral paint colors: ‘Veil Cream’ by Benjamin Moore and a Le Corbusier chaise. Somehow this space is rustic, western, and natural. Photo by Justin Bernhaut, Domino, Dec. 2006. Domino Magazine.

  • “White…is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black…God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.” — G. K. Chesterton
  • “The first of all single colors is white … We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for the earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

HOW CAN I LIVE IN A WHITE WASHED DREAM CLOUD?

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Studio Visit

Diana Kurz is a naturalist and figurative painter based in Soho, NYC. She was born in 1936 in Vienna, Austria. Kurz explains, ” My parents and I came to the US via Italy, Switzerland, England (where I learned to speak English) and Ireland. Because of the large body of work I have done on the subject of the Holocaust, I think it is important to mention that we were forced to flee Vienna in 1938, and that although we came to the United States when I was four years old, the events of WW II directly affected my life and childhood. Family history and my parents’ generosity in raising two of my orphaned cousins, survivors of concentration camps, as their own children instilled in me an awareness of the importance of social justice and caring for others.” To read a more in-depth biography, reprinted from Veteran Feminists of America, go HERE.

Diana Kurz and her mother in Europe when she was about 2 1/2 or 3.

Diana with a hip, mod, Sassoon inspired pixie cut in her Paris studio in 1965.

And later in her Soho studio – one of the lucky few to find these hidden Soho loft gems in the 1970s (before the area became the trendy, commerce center it is today).

Like in the Wizard of Oz, we just went from Black & White to Color! This is Diana today standing in front of one of her paintings. Look a that necklace!

She has exhibited her work extensively in solo and group shows nationally and internationally and her work is in many distinguished private and public collections including the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Rose Art Museum, Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien in Austria; The Jewish Museum of Vienna; Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Hudgens Center for the Arts, GA; Savannah College of Art and Design, and Yad Vashem. Among the numerous awards she has received are a Fulbright Grant in Painting to France;  New York State Council on the Arts CAPS Grant; American Center Residency in Paris; Austrian Federal Ministry of the Arts/VCCA Artist-In-Residence in Vienna;.Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency. Kurz has been on the faculty of distinguished art schools including Pratt Institute, Queens College, Cleveland Institute of Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SUNY at Stony Brook, University of Colorado in Boulder, and Philadelphia College of Art (now known as University of the Arts). She has a Bachelor of Arts cum laude degree in Fine Arts from Brandeis University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from ColumbiaUniversity.

John in the Studio, oil on canvas, 57″ x 68″

Ann in Striped Dress, oil on canvas, 72″ x 51 1/2″, Collection of Rose Art Museum, Massachusetts

Women painters were rare in the 1960’s and so the best compliment she would ever receive at the time was “that could have been painted by a man” (How horrible)! Although it might not show at first glance in her works, Kurz studied the compositions of Piet Mondrian at great length. Her canvases are heavily influenced by the the exploration of lines and color composition.

Silver Spring Monkeys, #2, Monotype, 6″ x 8″

The Hudson River Downtown Study #2 ,oil on paper on canvas, 7″ x 10″

I have had the pleasure of meeting Diana on several occasions – we talked over cookies and tea just last week! We first met during my time at Columbia University while I was the Project Manager for an amazing endeavor called “Art Cart: Saving the Legacy”. Enough on the history, now for a present-day studio visit:

Alternate uses for Cento Tomato Paste. 

Not shown in the photo, the other kitty and an adorable lap dog – DIXIE!

A detail. 

What inspires you to succeed and create? What do you need in your office or workspace so that you can be successful?  I have a garden gnome given to me by my friend Sonja that has been in every apartment in which I have ever lived. It travels with me, and is always lurking in the corner, helping me to conjure ideas!