Q&A-Black White Grey

Is Black a Color? Is White a Color?

What is the Symbolism of Grey?


Is Black a Color? Is White a Color?

Black is the absence of color and white is the blending of all colors. Can you suggest a simple way to demonstrate or prove this to a young child ? I think you've got that backwards - white is the absence of color and black is the blending of all colors - here's a simple way to show how black is made - combine all three primary colors using a liquid paint or you could even combine food coloring in a glass. You won't get a jet black, but I think the point will be clear. J Hope

Black is the absence of color and white is the blending of all color when dealing with light. The opposite is true when dealing with paint. A prism will demonstrate the colors in white light.

Whew, such confusion! Black paint, white paint, black rooms, lighted rooms.... Subtractive and additive colors..ugh. It might be best to only thing of color as light...or as fractions of light. (Skip the paint for now). Add RBG (red, blue, green) lights and you get white light. (Aren't those little dots on your TV screen neat to look at with a magnifying lens?) Look at color as little photonies that hit your retina and excite your little retinal cells. White (light) is the presence of all colors...the emission of a wide bandwidth of visible light that hits your eye/retina. Black (light..ha ha) is when you're in a dark room and you can't see a thing...no light..no photons around. - - - Oh, the paint? You don't 'see' the paint. You don't 'see' the paint color...not really. You see the color that is being reflected from the paint. Example: Red Paint. White light applied to the Red Paint. Some of the light bounces off the "Red" paint. The "Red" is what is reflected into your eye onto your retina. The other portion of the white light was absorbed by the so-called "Red" paint. Care to guess what colors the Red Paint absorbed? "Color" in that sense...occurs when your eye is only receiving a 'fractional' part of portion of a full white light emission. Or the light source is only generating a partial or selected section of the visible light spectrum. Etc. Etc. Regards, Mac

Individuals with such a preference (black and white) tend to resolve issues thru crisis, thru unmeditated sudden actions. Individuals going thru puberty, hospitalized children, and head of corporations tend more toward such preferences (what a group!). Regards, Mac

It has to do with color theory, just think about outerspace, where there is no light, therefore no color!!!

Can someone tell me black is considered a colour or not. I thought it's what you get when mixing Cyan, Yellow and Magenta (absence of colour)? If it is made with colours, why is it in itself not a colour? Please explain. Thanks

Christopher Willard
Yes, there was a question kicking around on the net for a while that said..."If black is the absence of color, then what is in a tube of black paint?" *S* It is humorous. (Get a book on color theory and look at the difference between additive mixture and subtractive mixture.)

Joe :
A tube of black paint is where the paint absorbs all the colors of the spectrum. There is no absences of light, it mearly means none of the colors in the spectrum of light are being reflected and so it appears black.

Mel, If you looked at additive and subtractive color mixing processes, you might understand where the logic in each is based. Mix a buncha colored paints together and you head towards a black ...more "mud" probably. Use colored lighting and provoke a power outage and you'll move towards black. But let's skip that for a moment.... Hey! Is Grey a color? Er...Gray? I suspect most people would look at colors like Blue and Yellow and Green and Red and might collectively agree that, yep, they are all "colors". Why? What do them thingies have in common? Probably that they all emit (directly or thru reflectance, etc.) an energy in the form of lightwaves somewhere in the visible (eye-detectable) portion of the spectrum. Well. Does Black (a really dark dark super fabo dark black) do that? Hmm. No. Black absorbs most all of the visible light energy. (Do you agree?) Can a 'color' that emits no color be a color? Is an empty box of cereal just filled with empty cereal? I'd guess - that Black isn't a color. But the visual void Black creates is a special case kinda thing. And we wanted a name for it - so someone named it Black. White is another sort of special case thing. Yeah, you can squeeze it out of a tube too. Add a few gallons of concentrated Clorox to your next load of laundry. When all of the colors fade from your clothes, how white drains the color from colors, will be obvious. If you try this at home, you may see the color drain from Mom's face too (but that's just a bio-side-effect). It's nice to know that Black and White exist - even though they are, what I'd term, special-case "colors". If we didn't have them, the paint companies wouldn't have as many shades and tints to sell. And Crayola would be unhappy too. Regards, Mac


As the editor of a Swedish magazine on colour research, I am busy writing the next number, called "the grey number". It would be interesting to hear what people around the world think when they hear the word "grey" and if there are any special meanings in their countries. In Sweden, it is connected with bureaucracy and boredom. Inga-lill Cras

Patti Phare-Camp :
Grey makes me think of "conservative." Grey is sometimes boring, sometimes classy, sometimes cool, sometimes warm. Every car I have ever bought has been a shade of grey. Why? Because it doesn't clash with anything else around it. I love to use chromatic greys in painting. I think they are so much richer than greys from black and white.

Bryan Villados:
I'm geographically located in Hawaii. When I hear the word "grey", what comes to mind is "in the middle". For example, "grey market" is something that could be or couldn't be illegal. "grey" also make me feel that something's not clear to me. It's kinda like the "I'm trying to think but nothing happens" syndrome, where your mind come to a complete blank.

Inga, Your comments on Grey are interesting. If I may propose a two-part hypothesis?
1. Grey is universally experienced by all people (has the same effect). - - -
2. Grey will have 1000's of differently perceived meanings. - - - - - - - - - -
Oh! Is there a conflict here? I say no. What do you say? Regards, Mac

Color Logic