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White, Wonderful White
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White, Wonderful White

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
I find my self inspired by the season to write about my favourite colour, which incidentally isn't a colour at all, but rather the manifestation of the presence of all colour. WHITE
After writing my opening sentence, I realized I had been thought in art school that white was not a colour but made up all colours yet; I didn't recall how exactly that worked. While I could  probably have gone through life quite comfortably not knowing how but just trusting my professors teaching, I decided I should look into it. An undertaking beyond my understanding, as the websites I googled took me to scientific descriptions beyond my comprehension.  After reading long winded explanation after explanation, I now understand why I didn't recall the details of that lesson.  I am after all, an artist and a right brained thinker.  Still not having the tools to sum it up for my readers, I went to a website for children's studies. Here then, is what I learned in as close to laymen terms as I could find. (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/optics/activities/teachers/prisms.html)
    Sir Issac Newton discovered that pure white light can be split into many colours -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet -- by using a prism. White light is composed of all the visible colours in the electromagnetic spectrum, a fact that can be easily  produce a spectrum known as a rainbow proven through the use of a prism. As light passes through a prism, it is bent, or refracted, by the angles and plane faces of the prism and each wavelength of light is refracted by a slightly different amount. Violet has the highest frequency and is refracted the most. Red has the lowest frequency and is refracted the least. Because each colour is refracted differently, each bends at a different angle, resulting in a fanning out and separation of white light into the colours of the spectrum.  
Rainbow photo taken by yours truly, 'Tina Knooihuizen'
Water droplets in the air can act in a manner similar to that of a prism, separating the colours of sunlight.  To be able to see a rainbow, you must be standing with the sun behind you. The sunlight shines into the water droplets in the air, bending as it moves from the air into the water, reflecting off the sides the drops, and bending again as it exits the drops. As a result, all of the colours in the white light of the sun separate into the individual bands of colour characteristic of a rainbow.
Another interesting tidbit that frankly has nothing to do with the colour white specifically but I thought was worthy of sharing is summed up by this web article:  
     A rainbow is most often viewed as a circular arc in the sky. An observer on the ground observes a half-circle of colour with red being the colour perceived on the outside or top of the bow. Those who are fortunate enough to have seen a rainbow from an air plane in the sky may know that a rainbow can actually be a complete circle.  
Well, now we all have a clear understanding of dispersion of white light through prisms. If you want to further explore light refraction, I recommend visiting:http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/refry/u14l4a.cfm
Before I get into the meat of how white is best used in interior design, I'd like to talk about the psychology of white. Knowing the symbolism behind the shade, helps us to understand it's appeal.  The obvious associations with white are light, sunshine, purity, innocence, wedding dresses and virginity. The phrase 'White as snow' comes to mind. One also thinks of hygienic cleanliness and security . Doctors don white coats giving us a sense of sterility, safety strength and healing.  So also do chefs wear white, again the image of cleanliness and perfection.  
I recall reading a reference to the ideal image of a white picket fence surrounding our home in safety and happiness.
All colours are said to cause a psychological reaction, Visit this website for an interesting and in depth read on the effects of colour on the psyche.
White mentally encourages clarity, purifies thought and actions and suggests fresh starts, new beginnings or blank slates.
The Christian community talks of the divine light of Jesus Christ. 'The light of the world', white being made of light, I suppose then, it could also be said that Jesus the white of the world.  Images of white robes, heaven and angels on fluffy white clouds, all come to mind.
Artistically speaking, a blank canvas is an invitation to the imagination. Nothing either good nor bad exists. Its neutral, which finally brings me to talking about something far less intellectual; my love of white in interior design. Being that white is neutral, it goes with anything, any one, any place any time.  If and I do mean IF, a room is successfully decorated with white, it can create a sense of space,  light and cleanliness, leaving one feel relaxed and refreshed. If not executed correctly, it can also seem sterile, cold, bland, empty and unfriendly. So how does one create a wonderful monochromatic white room?  Well here are some suggestions:
  • -White comes in a multitude of shades and tones, combine them.
  • -Find fabrics, wall coverings rugs and other floor treatments and accessories that have interesting textures and patterns using white.
  • -If you can't bring yourself to stick strictly to white, you can add touches of cream, and or grey. --Add sparingly natural elements, such as light woods.
  • -Like on a blank canvas, with a white room, any addition of colour creates drama. A dash of red  pops like a snowman's bright orange carrot nose. Art galleries paint the walls white to the focus is on the art work and everything else sort of disappears.
  •  -Add interesting lighting, experiment with different kinds of light bulbs and change the ambiance of a space.
  • - Add some sparkle, crystals, glass, mirror.
  • - Distressed white furniture also adds a sense of time to a space.
In conclusion I ask, why do I love white?  Because it usually has positive connotations and associations. I feel alive in white spaces.
Perhaps you too, like white spaces but have decided you can't decorate with it due to having kids or pets.  I'm here to tell you that you can! Here's how...
  • Use outdoor fabric to upholster a chair or sofa. They are virtually indestructible, spill resistant, and washable.  These days they are even beautiful.
  • White vinyl is also washable
  • Hi gloss panelling, also.....washable
  • White lighting, accessories, and enamel painted furniture are all additions that work with kids.
  • Maybe you won't go all the way white, but I think you can definitely get that bright airy feel. 
Here are some white room photos that I love, none of which are my work but rather found online.

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