Whitewash as Art

Hi Friends,

The word “whitewash” popped into my consciousness last week. It’s a curious word with a strong visual component. It means to conceal or to cover up. Whitewash is a low-cost white paint used to disguise an otherwise unappealing surface. Whitewash also means to gloss over or cover up a wrong or illegal action.

It kind of has a negative connotation, doesn’t it? I went looking for quotes about whitewash, and this is the only one I found:

Whitewash on the forehead hardens the brain into a state of obstinacy, perhaps.  –Charles Dickens

I’m not sure what that even means, but the idea of a white wash covering up something below was intriguing, and I decided to play around with it in a painting.

I started with geometric forms pressed onto unprimed natural canvas and a scrunched taupe background that created interesting creases in the fabric.

Cassandra Tondro, "Whitewash," abstract art

Next came layers of complementary blues and greens. I rarely use a brush. I like to make marks using tools that I find at local thrift stores, like spatulas, whisks, muffin tins, ice cube trays, and cups.

Cassandra Tondro, "Whitewash," abstract art

I used paint on bubble wrap to fill out the design and obcure the patterns.

Cassandra Tondro, "Whitewash," abstract art

And the final layer is the whitewash — white paint pressed onto the canvas to disguise some of the design and accentuate the crevassed surface.

Cassandra Tondro, "Whitewash," contemporary painting

“Whitewash,” 36 x 48 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Cassandra Tondro, "Whitewash," original art

It looks like a whitewash finish that has worn down over time, revealing another layer underneath.

Click here for more information and to purchase this piece.

What role does whitewash play in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

May you be awash in the healing energy of white light!

With love and appreciation,
Cassandra

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2 Comments

  1. I like this application of white-washing:

    Whitewash is applied to trees, especially fruit trees, to prevent sun scald. Most often only the lower trunk is painted. Painting the whole trunk is said to help keep the body of the tree cool in late winter and early spring months and hence help prevent fruit trees from blooming too soon.

    In this context, white-washing is a form of protection. It also keeps something — blooming — from happening before its time. This is a comforting thought for someone like me who sometimes rushes in without proper preparation. I like the idea of a protective element out there than can keep me from harm.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Donna. I’ve seen tree trunks painted white, and never knew what it was for. It’s an interesting idea — whitewash as protection. It gives the word a whole new meaning!

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