Long ago, the owners of an auto parts business
on North Capitol Street painted over the glass block
walls of their building. The blocks probably
replaced windows for security reasons while
still allowing light in the building.
Over the years, the blocks have been painted white
to keep passers-by from seeing the warehoused
parts. As the paint peeled, more coats were added
giving the surface even more texture.
Pictures like these are easy to find.
Textures, patterns, and depth with just the right
bits of color are always around.
However, if one tried to create it purposely,
it's another matter altogether, one involving a clear
vision of one's intent and absolute understanding
of one's materials. I found a number of
paintings by Robert Ryman that illustrate this point.
While called a "minimalist", his paintings
are loaded with variations in tone and texture
that keep them lively and interesting.
Several years ago, one of his white paintings
sold for $9.6 million. Next month,
Sotheby's is selling another of these paintings,
expecting it to bring $15/20 million.