The Visual Power of Black & White with a Sprinkle of Self Reflection

The Visual Power of Black & White

2022 is almost at an end and I didn’t want this year to pass without getting around to writing my final journal post of 2022. I wanted to discuss my love of black and white drawings; I didn’t want to jump on the self-reflection bandwagon, but I couldn’t help myself. Afterall there’s only one 2022 and its nearly come to an end. So, this entry is an intertwining mix of self-reflection verses the power of black and white. 

Close up of Tom Ford Black Orchid Illustration (Available To Purchase)

 I think like many people this year has been a lot to process mentally. We’ve been overwhelmed with sad news; Putin’s merciless attack on Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth’s death the end of a remarkably long reign, rising gas and electricity prices, just stop oil fighting for zero oil usage bringing the roads to a standstill nationwide, these are but a few of the news stories that have occurred. It’s difficult to remain chirpy when at times the world can seem so bleak; global and national changes which affect all of us on many different, complex levels. 

This is where I find myself going into self-reflection mode more than ever. I know I have no control over others. We ultimately all have free choice to make our own decisions. So, self-reflection for me is not just about giving myself a self-critique it’s about recognising the big changes that occurred over the past year, the positive ones that have helped my character to develop. One of these changes would be public speaking. I now facilitate workshops and I didn’t realise up until now just how much I LOVE sharing and teaching what I know which is -ART. I have found my voice and it likes to talk about art! Now don’t get me wrong I’d still class myself as your typical introvert; this girl loves to spend time on her own! The positive effects I have felt by just giving my voice some space and weight to it has been somewhat life changing. 

Self Reflection

It’s in one of these classes that I was asked about colours. I often view black and white as colours, but they are not. Black and white are shades that augment other colours. White is made up of all the colours of the spectrum whereas black is the absence of light. They do not have a specific wavelength so therefore they are not considered a colour. 

It’s only during recent times that artist and designers have started to investigate the psychology behind certain colours, using them in an informed way to stir emotions in the viewer. 

https://londonimageinstitute.com/how-to-empower-yourself-with-color-psychology/

Black and white have various symbolic meanings within different cultures, religions and history. Black is the absence of colour, whereas white is made up of all colours of the spectrum. This opposition seems to be the perfect balance for two neutrals to compliment and work so well with each other. We can also take into consideration the symbolic meaning behind black and white. In many cultures black symbolises death and mourning where as white (In Western cultures) is a symbol of purity and cleanliness. In Eastern cultures white is representative of death and mourning. 

Chanel Bottle with Hydrangeas Illustration (Available To Purchase)

At its simplest and most beautiful balance we can look at a blank piece of white paper and the artist who takes to the paper with a black pen. A creation emerges from the paper. A strong contrast occurs. Black and white are opposites but also a continuum of each other. This presence that black and white has with each other can be likened to yin and yan, day and night, the balance that works constantly to form and shape one another like a continuous never-ending string of events. In contrast we have the end of a year recognised by a full revolution of the sun, but it’s a lot to take in and a day that marks the start of 2023 can just seem like a carry on of the previous year. As much as I find it a little self-indulgent to talk about my year, my wins, my losses, I’m really beginning to understand why it’s actually a good idea to carve out what this year has meant to me and how in some way it will shape my 2023. 2022 is nearly closed but 2023 is a whole world of opportunities, giving hope for better days ahead. 

Some great articles to read on this are listed below. 

https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/2020-lessons-reflection-guide/468994

https://everydaypower.com/reflecting-on-the-past-year/

The Benefits Of Colouring In For Adults

It was around two years ago that colouring in truly made a comeback. Bookshops started devoting full shelves to this trendy pursuit and you might remember The Secret Garden (colouring in book) being a bestseller on Amazon. So what is the allure that colouring in for adults holds? Well according to a group of New Zealand researchers they found that colouring in for just ten minutes every day has a big impact on lowering feelings of stress and depression.

Adult colouring in fans like the nostalgic undertones that colouring in books hold. Author and Illustrator of The Secret Garden Joanna Basford has sold a record 1.4 million copies of her The Secret Garden book. “For many people, a blank sheet is very daunting; with a colouring book you just need to bring the colour. Also there’s a bit of nostalgia there. So many people have said to me that they used to do secret colouring in when their kids were in bed. Now it is socially acceptable, it’s a category of its own. These are books for adults.” said Basford.

Not only is it fun and less daunting than staring down at a blank piece of paper the health benefits can be likened to meditation. If you find sitting and switching off a difficult past time you might be better off colouring in. Colouring in has been show to relax your brain and improve brain function; colouring in relaxes the fear centre of the brain called the amygdala. This has a soothing effect on your nervous system which overall will have a great effect on your long term mental health.

Among other things it is known to effectively help reduce anxiety, improve motor skills, help with focus and sleep. Colouring in offers a distraction from our tech and screen heavy world, placing our concentration on a peaceful hobby.

Here are some tips on buying good quality colouring in books. If you are able to: go to a book store where you can feel the paper. Thin paper is not a good idea as certain pens will bleed right through. You might not have time to be looking at paper gsm’s but if you do look for hot press watercolour paper 200gsm this is great for colouring in pencils and can also work for wet media like watercolour pens and paint. Look through the designs and see if they captivate you enough before buying. The more you love the design the more you will be enticed to colour and hey you might even end up framing some of them! Be sure to buy decent colouring in pencils crayons. Good quality pencils have more pigment and less binder hence they will produce rich colours compared to cheap pencils which have more binder and less pigment often giving you a scratchy streaky look.

If you don’t want to buy a colouring book you can download free colouring in sheets to print at home. If you want something that you can frame and put on your wall I have a Chanel Colouring in sheet on my website (£8 including free p&p).

Printed onto uncoated poster paper which allows you to work with felt-tips, crayons, pastels and watercolour pens.

Paper Weight 380 (mic)

30 x 42cm

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/05/colouring-books-for-adults-top-amazon-bestseller-list

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/09/colouring-books-for-adults-benefit-mental-health-study-new-zealand-anxiety-depression

https://www.gathered.how/arts-crafts/best-adult-colouring-books/

https://www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/blogs/health-benefits-of-coloring-for-adult

Gucci Knight of Labour – Vittorio Accornero

Gucci Family Photo sourced from https://www.photobookmagazine.com/features/2021/8/19/house-of-gucci-premiering-this-november-lets-reflect-on-the-brand-before-the-release

 

Guccio Gucci stood outside his first store – opened in 1921

I remember seeing the adverts flashing up for House of Gucci and was happy to see two familiar actors: Adam Driver with a leading role alongside Lady Gaga. You can imagine my delight when after setting my kids up with headphones, snacks and pillows I finally got to watch this film on a flight to New York. I just remember being completely absorbed in this Italian families life. Yes I was underwhelmed by the leading actors Italian accents but this story enthused so much love, decadence, murder and controversy to keep me enthralled. Let’s take a look back in time at the brand Gucci to where it is this present day and explore how It became such an inspiring brand to many.

Gucci is a powerhouse of a fashion brand having reinvented itself over many decades. Its history is volatile with stories of take overs, family feuds, near bankruptcy and last but not least a murder plot. What is incredible about Gucci is amidst all of the controversy the brand has somehow managed to stand the test of time in the fashion world.

The Origins Of Gucci

The brand began with Italian founder Guccio Gucci who worked as a bellboy in the posh London Savoy hotel. He loved the elegant, fancy suitcases of the affluent, upper-class people; so the story goes they inspired his first collection. Gucci’s overall vision for the brand was to echo the elite activities of the rich aristocrats, which is where the horse bit element in many of the designs came from.

During the 1935-36 period Italy faced an embargo from the league of nations which made importing leather difficult. Gucci managed to source its own materials by developing a woven hemp in Naples. This is where the interconnecting diamond design emerged on suitcases which proved to be a successful design. 

 

Pinterest – Gucci interconnecting diamond design

Post World War II 

After World War II Gucci’s son Aldo introduced pigskin to the brand as well as bamboo handled bags inspired by a saddle. Both materials becoming firm staples of the brand.

Sometime in 1951 when Rodolfo (Gucci’s son) opened the first Gucci store in Milan the green-red-green web became a new statement design for the fashion company. 

At this time Gucci was considered a pioneer of Italian design in the US and around this time the first loafer with a horse bit element was created. (Fast forward to 1985 this design would be displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). 

The Jackie

The house’s crest became a registered trademark in 1955 with stores quickly opening in London and Palm Beach. A turning point was Jackie Kennedy being seen with a Gucci bag which was renamed after her: The Jackie. This bag was again reinvented in numerous colours in 1999 showing Gucci’s continual regeneration of the brand which had now crafted an ‘It’ bag all the celebrities wanted.

 

Jackie 1961 small debossed textured-leather shoulder bag – available on net-a-porter

Into the Swinging 60’s

Soon many famous faces were becoming familiar with the Gucci brand one being Grace Kelly – the Princess of Monaco. Rodolfo personally commissioned a beautiful silk scarf as a gift for the Princess in 1966. 

The Flora scarf was designed in just one night and became the most notable design in Gucci’s history. The scarf is adorned with 46 different types of flowers, insects and plants in 37 colours. It is known as one of the finest designs in Gucci’s history. Accornero who initially worked under the name Ninon, went on to design 80 scarves in total for Gucci each one beautifully elaborate and as decadent as the next one. Some designs depict spiders sat on top of flowers, dragonflies whizzing past, flowers hand picked and bunched into colourful bouquets.

Accornero was born in Casale Monferrato and was known as one of Italy’s leading artists of the mid twentieth century. He was a multi-talented man who worked in illustration, costume and theatrical design as well as being a talented painter. One of his first major jobs was working for country life magazine in New York for several months creating the stage sets and props. He then moved back to Milan where he worked as an illustrator for children’s books and collaborated with several fashion houses most notably creating the Gucci Flora Scarf design. 

GUCCI c.1970s Vittorio Accornero Iconic "Flora" Print Silk Scarf

 

Gucci Scarf showing Vittorio Accornero’s illustrative design

What was impressive about Accornero’s designs is he introduced seasonality by changing up the flower palette and colour tones to reflect autumn and winter months. These were designs that were classy and charming worn by such a diverse mix of women at the time such as Grace Kelly, Monica Vitti and Sophia Loren. Accornero worked from 1960 – 1981 for the fashion house and is undeniably a pioneer in the brands history; in 1981 he was awarded the ‘Gucci Knight of Labour’ cup. His designs to this day live on in different reproductions having been printed onto bags, scarves and clothes.

 

Accornero’s Autumnal colour palette

 

Accornero’s Flora design
in this 2013 campaign for Gucci

His style is often described as accentuated naturalism, this is evident in the Flora design which shows flowers and insects laid out so elegantly separated by negative space and a lack of symmetry that makes the design all the more natural and appealing. For me his Flora design reflects the illustrative style of his books with highly accentuated flowers of natural colours and tones. There is an elegance and softness to his style that epitomises the legacy of Gucci. 

My new work embodies this softness with hints of designer emblems nodding to a fantasy like world where anything is possible including branded bumblebees. My insects have become humanised and my designs hope to capture the scents of the perfumes with bees sniffing and flying around bottles; the individual notes of the perfume turn into flowers emerging from the bottles. It is a feminine, iconic and playful collection of work inspired by the great illustrator and pioneer of Gucci fashion Vittorio Accornero.

Sources: https://wwd.com

www.lifestyleasia.com

Net-a-porter (Jackie Bag)

Pinterest (interconnecting Gucci Luggage Bag)

 

 

 

 

 

Faye Casson is based in North East London: selling limited edition prints and originals. Next Fair Date – East Art Fair, Spitalfields Market – 5th November 2022

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