“The tendency to put in more and more white is so usual that it would be well to restrict the white. Keep it off the palette. Allow only so much of it in the pigments which must have it, and allow them much less than you think they should have.” – quote from Robert Henri, highly regarded teacher of American artists at The Art Students League in New York. Henri felt that white is a neutralizer, robbing a painting of dynamic expression. He recommended that artists do their modeling from warm to cold rather than from white to black.
Any art supplies store knows to stock large tubes of white – the
biggest seller. It is assumed that white will be the base, and other
colors will be added to create the palette layout. The discussion about
lead white vs. titanium white vs. zinc white has consumed many endless
hours of blog postings. Perhaps Henri was right. Perhaps we need to
focus more on the range of colors. Afterall, they are an equally
important part of our tools.
In the attached image, Henri appears to use broad strokes of color on a warm toned background, finishing with highlights.