Considering I’m a painter, I don’t think it’s possible to exhaust the topic of the multifaceted neutral color gray. I use gray in the studio when I want the structure of a pattern I’m recreating on a surface to be defined, while the rest of the piece has an otherwise aggressive color palette. It is often my go-to when I want to acknowledge the physical direction of the process or of a specific mark-making experience. I also use it when I’m craving a comical yet quasi-serious line. It’s my workhorse tone. It’s almost unassuming, but very direct. Depending on whether I’m working on a generally pink painting (most of the time!) or a painting that I’m pretending is not about pink, like blue maybe (kidding… or am I?), I love mixing that perfectly intellectual yet subtle gray tone to sharpen my mark-making without taking away from the power of other visual elements.
Secure the Ground. Oil on Linen, 36 in. by 36 in. 2011
In terms of interior wall finishes, gray pairs well with fully embraced femininity, supporting delicate and soft ideas, but it can also contribute successfully to a sharper, more direct arena. It is also the perfect backdrop for that eclectic mix of the two. Whether a green accent chair or a collection of antique lavender pottery pieces, the subtle nuance that a field of gray provides in a room can perfect a spatial experience.
Brooke Shields’ Home as seen in Architectural Digest
The key to the successful use of a fully dimensional gray is in the undertones. Although I rely on my color theory knowledge when pairing tones, a lot of my choices are driven by instinct, so I always test the color in the space, taking note of the various lighting changes. If you stick a yellow couch in a room with a blue-undertone gray, it just might end up feeling like the purple or baby blue room you never really wanted. So if you’re selecting colors on your own, make sure you buy a test pot to sample the color in your space, it will save you lots of money in the long run!
Before I’m off for the weekend, I wanted to share these Benjamin Moore Grays that Kari and I consider tried and true.
Have a great one, friends.