Black And White Surprise

The prompts for the third ‘Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge‘ are as follows:.

Headline Prompt:  Triumphs and Defeats:  What do you see as your greatest triumphs or defeats?  What have they taught you?  Which have you learned more from?
Color Prompt:  
Black and white
Quote Prompt: 
Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I totally agree with Longfellow that triumph and defeat are found within us rather than outside of us. It’s all a case of personal perspective and the stories we tell ourselves so I don’t really look at events in my life as triumphs or defeats.

With regard the colours I can’t believe it’s black and white. That’s three weeks in a row when I’ve had to use colours I don’t like. It’s all good though –  a great chance to try things I never would normally and I’m really curious as to what I’ll end up with. I can’t imagine only using black and white (and maybe grey) and finishing a painting that I actually like. But that’s the fun of it.

Given that I’m not anticipating ending up with something I actually want to look at, I’m going to work on a secondhand canvas I bought from a charity shop. I choose this one because it had black and white on it already. This is what it started as:



I used the lines that were already there and added some black texture created with some old lumpy polyfilla, pva glue and black paint. Then I added some white texture made the same way but with newer pollyfilla. Then I painted over the original black lines that were still showing with more black paint and painted over the blue with white gesso and this was the result. I was hoping to do some sort of printing into the gesso but once it was on the canvas I could see that it wasn’t thick enough.


I wanted to create some contrast on the flat black areas so I experimented with writing on them with my white pen. I thought it would make an interesting pattern but the pen I have just seemed to lay ink down in a puddle so I wiped it off and gave up on that idea.

Shifting my attention to the black pollyfilla areas I decided to sand using an electric sander. I was really surprised and pleased with the results. The lumps in the pollyfilla gave some nice white contrasting bits and the lower areas that were touched by the sander turned dark grey.

Looking at the end result I thought that something was needed in the flat white areas so, keeping with the black and white theme, I ripped up an old book and add some printed paper.


I wanted to add some more texture following the curves in the bottom right of the picture. I tried various things and ended up using some matt medium mixed with pouring medium and some black and white paints. I poured it into an old product bottle I’d got from the hairdressers and squirted it onto the painting. It came out all squiggly. That was not my intention but I just went with it.

Next I decided to add some silver highlights to the ridges in the white pollyfilla area using a credit card. Yuk! Didn’t like how that turned out. It was a way too ‘in your face’ so I painted over it with some watered down white gesso.

Then I tried to add some black, shiny geometric beads but I couldn’t work out how to get them to stick so I gave up and added the black chain instead.

Finally, I painted over the newsprint with a glass beads medium. You can just about see them in the detail picture below. I soooooo wish I could take better photographs!

So that’s it. Challenge 3 completed. I’m absolutely delighted with the result and would never in a million years have thought I could create something I liked using only black and white. I love it even more knowing it started out as someone else’s painting and I have no idea who that someone is!

Also linking to Creative Every Day and Inspiration Avenue.

39 comments to “Black And White Surprise”

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  1. Leah - 03 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Very cool results with the sander!

    • Gillian - 03 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Leah. I’d definitely like to experiment more with it. Looks like it might be a great way to use old Polyfilla – not to mention cheap!

  2. Janet - 05 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I love this. It is wonderful that we all approach it in a different way. Your result is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Rinda - 06 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Really interesting. I love the squiggles – it’s hard for me to do abstracts, so I really appreciate this.

    • Gillian - 07 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Isn’t it amazing, as Janet mentioned, how differently we approach things. I can’t not do abstract. If a painting has to look like a real object I’m totally lost. 🙂

  4. Jessica Sporn - 07 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Wow – I love the heart and soul that you poured into this, and how you stuck with it, reinventing it as you went along. The texture is fantastic, and I think you used all of the values from white to black. Thank you so much for joining Fall Fearless and Fly, and sharing so much of your process.

    • Gillian - 07 Nov, 2012 Reply

      I’m having a ball Jessica and very grateful to you for setting this up and for your comments.

  5. Jen - 07 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I love all the textures you created. The larger chain reminds me of stitching. Very cool!

  6. Jenny Grant - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Great to see the progress and I like the result!

    • Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Jen and Jenny for your comments.

  7. Carolyn Dube - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your steps as you tackled a tough challenge ( I found the black and white to be the hardest yet). So glad you shared this with Fall Fearless and Fly!

  8. pointypix - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    This is wonderful. I love how you took us through each step and how amazingly different it looked from how it began! The addition of the newsprint was inspired!

    • Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Jen, Jenny, Carolyn and Pointypix. Your comments are a great encouragement to me.

  9. Marji - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    There is so much in our world that is black and white and full of texture. You have pulled together some really wonderful elements with the printed word and those beautiful beads. Appears this has opened a new perspective for you. Lovely work for the challenge. Happy PPF

    • Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

      You’re right. It really has opened a new perspective. I would never have considered doing something in just black and white but now I’d definitely be willing to have another go. Especially having seen the creativity in what others have done.

  10. Susan Being Snippy - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    When I see “abstract” art, my mind works at seeing non-abstract images and within your black and white piece I found a multitude of things to bring into focus. A fun creation that makes ones mind search!

    • Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for your comment Susan. It’s interesting that “non-abstract images” thing. My partner, son and friend I often paint with frequently look at my paintings and say “that reminds me of. . .” or “that looks like a . . .”.

      I don’t tend to see things in them myself – just textures, shapes and colours.

  11. B - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I love this! I especially like the torn up book pages. Thanks for sharing your process….and thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind words!

    • Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

      You’re welcome B and thanks to you too. I’ve had another look at your blog and see you’ve added the Christmas tree now. I love it!

  12. Linda K - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    what a fantastic piece of absract art-I love this!! Thanks for sharing at FF & F and PPF!

  13. Annette G - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    This is fab, loving the great alteration and reusing. Happy PPF, Annette x

  14. Tracey Fletcher King - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    it is lovely… such a great result… hope you get in and do more paintings in black and white…xx

  15. Gillian - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Linda, Annette and Tracey.

    I see that you’ve come across from PPF and as this is my first challenge I’m wondering . . . is there any etiquette that should be followed when you post the same picture in more than one challenge? I notice some people seem to add a sentence at the bottom of a post listing the challenges they posted that particular piece of work in. Is it just a matter of preference?

  16. Terri Morse - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Wow! I really enjoyed reading about your process. I love the variety of textures and it’s really cool that you recycled an old painting. You gave me an idea. I did a painting on a wood panel and I really hate where it’s going. I used a lot of texture pastes and lutra-dur so I thought I would need a jack-hammer to remove it! Maybe I’ll try the electric sander 🙂 Have a great weekend! Terri

    • Gillian - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

      Let us know how you get on with the sander. Id be interested to see your results. I’ve never heard of lutra-dur before. I’ll have to look it up. Thanks for posting.

  17. laurie - 09 Nov, 2012 Reply

    wow, now this is art, so cool, love this!

  18. Mary C. Nasser - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Wonderful achromatic painting!
    Love the incorporation of print and glass bead texture!
    Happy PPF!!
    Mixed-Media Map Art

  19. denthe - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I LOVE reading about your process and all the things you tried. Marvelous work!

  20. Jo (Fiddlesnips!) - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I really like how you took another artwork, used it as a basis for inspiration and transformed it into your own. Love all the texture and I found your process explanation really interesting.


  21. carlarey - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

    I really like the finished piece, it’s amazing to look at all the stages you went through and see where it ended up.

  22. Gillian - 10 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Wow! I can’t keep up with all the comments. Thank you all so much!

  23. Mary Walker - 16 Nov, 2012 Reply

    Happy PPF!

  24. Julie Jordan Scott - 04 Feb, 2013 Reply

    Ohmigawsh. I absolutely LOVE this!! Your work is astounding and the prompt itself hovers around my stratosphere somewhere.

    I need to research “glass beads medium” because it just blows me away!

    Here today from Creative Every Day. I loved your picture in the linky so here I am!

    • Gillian - 04 Feb, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for visiting Julie and for leaving such a generous comment.

      I initially used the glass beads medium by Golden but I’ve now switched to Liquidex as they cost less. You can make them go further by adding a standard acrylic medium to them which allows you to spread them more thinly and you can mix them with paints. They’re really lovely to play around with. Hope you find some soon.

  25. Morag - 06 Mar, 2013 Reply

    Love the black pollyfiller! I use a lot of gesso in my work, nice to find another gesso lover, glass bead medium over news print! another brill idea, I’m not usually a monotone person but I love this. 🙂

    • Gillian - 07 Mar, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Morag! I’m also most definately not a monotone person which is what made the outcome of this piece such a lovely surprise. have you done much with black gesso?

      • Morag - 10 Mar, 2013 Reply

        No not with black gesso, I usually use it white then draw into it and then paint or scratch the surface. It can createsuch lovely texture. I need to experiment with the black though as it seems to work so well.

  26. Lou Anne - 10 Mar, 2013 Reply

    Isn’t it awesome to work on something only to find out in the end that you LOVE it? I’m so glad you shared your image and your process with us this week at Inspiration Avenue. The b/w and newspaper print are really interesting-lots of texture and movement.

  27. TG - 10 Mar, 2013 Reply

    That’s a great piece – and it’s really interesting to see how you developed the concept. It’s also a good antidote to color addiction!

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