Titanium White

Symphony in White Painting by Whistler

There are many painters who mourn the loss of Cremnitz white in the U.S. As they tell it, some maniacal monster of do-goodery flashed in front of those loyal and pure painters, and plucked from them the one white which they could truly ever love. The life-taking properties of lead as poison, they argue, were nothing compared to the life giving properties of lead as whitest of whites.

These are after all painters, so it only seems right to afford them a little desire for poetic mourning.

But the groaning of the lead white lovers, seems to ignore one of my favorite tubes. That filled with Titanium White, the far less toxic alternative – although its lack of edibility is not in question.

In high-school, I painted snowy landscapes one year when it seemed all we had to paint, eat , or sleep on was continuous mounds of snow. That was the year I fell for Titanium white, and its equally lovely cousins mixed of titanium and zinc.

Titanium Dioxide is the white-lovers dream. It is snow driven pure, the milk no cow can produce, and the cap of all ocean waves. It is a fat fat color in oils and acrylics that lays on top of things like a king. Long white sinewy slugs of opaque cream. That could dominate if you let it.

It would be inappropriate to not insert acknowledgement for the white of sperm here as well. That life maker white honey. I would also not forget milk mustaches or some mix of the two best scene in pornography.

For me too, it fills all voids behind my organic, robotic vessels. A solid shining background, it sets cool and clear behind my images, strong like a wall, and deep like ocean foam or wintry crevices.

I’ve had occasion to play with many whites, zinc, iridescent, titanium, and even the feared lead. I like them all in their ways, and certainly advocate for more. But Titanium is white to be loved and sung with, not maligned as inferior child-safe mud the fear police have left us.