Key 8: Art

Monochromatic Art Lets Your Eyes Rest On A Single Hue

Monochromatic Art Lets Your Eyes Rest On A Single Hue.

“Monochromatic colors are all the colors (tints, tones, and shades) of a single hue,” according to Wikipedia.  I love using lots of color in my art, which you can check out at

I also appreciate the use of color by other artists as well.


Choosing One Hue

There is something interesting that occurs, though, when we view or make monochromatic art.

Often, we think of monochromatic art as being shades of black, white, and gray. I was given an art assignment, a few years ago, to paint a picture using one colorful hue. It was fairly difficult for me to do. I had chosen blue as my hue and went with the range from cobalt blue to a lighter sky or baby blue. The image I selected was that of a bird on a branch, with a few leaves, in the foreground of a blue sky.

I asked my instructor if I could just add a tiny touch of orange to the beak and green to the leaf.

“NO!” He frowned at me and then laughed. “Just do the assignment and see what comes up.”

Grumbling, and also laughing, I returned to my seat. “Beaks aren’t blue,” I mumbled. When I looked up at him again, he winked at me.

Unexpected Discoveries

What did I learn from this exercise? That I may or may not be a control freak. That aside, I observed myself as being much more literal than I had expected. Beaks are not necessarily blue, but hawks, who have black beaks, appear to have shades of blue. But why was it so hard to just use various shades of blue for everything?

Is Monochromatic Boring?

I didn’t know that I had the fear, until I made the monochromatic painting, that it might be boring. I don’t want to make, or view, boring art. Do you? Of course not! Surprisingly, though, not only wasn’t it boring, it brought about a sense of peacefulness. My eyes could rest on the various shades, tones, and tints of the color, and explore the image more deeply.

Different Hues, Same Experience

Someone else in the class had chosen green and painted trees in a forest. It, too, was peaceful. Then I began to think that it was because the colors, themselves, were peaceful. My theory was blown apart by my amused instructor when we looked at another student’s piece. She had selected red as her color. Her image captured the movement of several horses running. While there was great movement in it, and a vibrant, stimulating color, such as red, there was still a sense of unity and peace. My instructor explained how he, too, found it restful to observe a single hue at a time.

Try It Yourself

So check it out this week! You can make or view monochromatic art, or just observe it in nature. The various greens in trees provide us with an opportunity to see the palette in action. Leave a comment to share your experience. We’d love to hear about it.

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