From analysing the piece ‘Morning’ by Dod Procter, there are many themes that can be explored further. The work itself was created using oil on canvas. Using primarily shades of white and grey, the skin tones of the piece is very monochromatic. The subject matter is simple which could reflect the artist’s choice of colour. After exploring the idea of the piece, I would like to look more into the choice of colours and what they may represent in terms of meaning.
Monochrome means one colour; in relation to art it means artwork that uses only one colour. ‘Morning’ includes some greys and skin tones so it may not be considered entirely monochromatic. However, white is the predominant shade throughout the artwork.
Shades of grey oil paint were used to create monochromatic paintings. This is a technique called ‘grisaille’; derived from the French word ‘gris’, meaning grey. This technique enabled artists to play with light and dark to define form. It can also be used to give the impression of three-dimensions which is particularly prevalent in terms of sculpture and giving the impression of tones and structures. Grisaille can be used as an underpainting for oil painting, in preparation for glazing colours on top of it. In reference to ‘Morning’, the painting is predominantly grey with the exception of the skin tones, suggesting that a grisaille was used as an underpainting.
Grisaille painting was popular in the 15th and 16th Centuries. A brief description explains what Grisaille technique is and why it is used by artists:
‘A grisaille is a painting which has been executed in monochrome (i.e. one colour) or in a very limited range of colour, but in which the forms are defined by variations of tone.’
In relation to the artwork, Dod Procter explains that she intended to explore the ‘fall of light across figures to give a powerful sense of volume.’ It could be suggested that Procter used the grisaille technique to create the impression of shadows on the body. The technique of using greyscale creates a sense of sadness and thought. It creates a very pensive mood and this compliments the subject matter; a girl lying still on a bed, possibly sleeping or tired.