So I’m trying to pinpoint why I like black and white art so much. I know it’s partly because we’re surrounded by so much color every day that its absence has a calming effect, on me anyway. Your mileage may vary. But it’s more than that.
And I think I’ve got it. Even though my artwork is black and white, I use color reference photos as much as possible,
which doesn’t seem to make sense, until you realize that with nothing but light and shadow, small details might be hard to recognize. Color has an advantage in that different hues and intensities are additional ways to define the subject. So once in a while, I need the color photo to understand what’s there, and then I have to figure out how to provide the same information with my limited black and white palette. Which adds a bit of a challenge to the project and really makes it fun.
Something else I've noticed is that people who like black and white art tend to be quite passionate about it, just as I am, and maybe for a similar reason. They have to take that extra step and let their mind find the colors, which is not only fascinating, but makes the artwork unique to them since no one else will see it exactly the same way. Of course, that’s only going to work if I’ve been successful in saying what I intended, so when it all comes together, the artwork becomes a kind of shared experience. And that feels good!
By the way, if you want a really good example of how that works, stop by http://www.sibleyfineart.com sometime. Mike Sibley is my inspiration. He’s been doing black and white artwork of dogs for thirty years now, and in my opinion, there’s no one better.