Grisaille is a French word for monochromatic painting. This project is a twist on a traditional high school assignment that ask students to make a painting in grayscale, inspired by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s grisaille underpaintings. This assignment aims to isolate the difficulties of rendering an object in paint in value before grappling with challenges of mixing color.
In this variation, rather than using black paint, students mix their own black, warm or cool, from ultramarine blue and burnt umber. Looking at the artwork of contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter, students learn to appreciate the subjectivity of blacks and the emotional power of different shades of black that might tend toward either blue or brown.