Tuesday 10 November 2015

AHIQ - thinking about colour

I hope you will bear with me if I get side-tracked just a little bit this week.  This may turn into a new "why don't you try this" challenge but right now I just need to jump metaphorically up and down and rant about colour.

Some time ago this blog led to me to this: an article about colour definitions in the 3rd edition of Webster's Dictionary.  Now it would be fair to say I am both a colour obsessive and possibly over-fond of the English language so this got me quite excited.  But secondhand copies of the book were expensive and, mostly, on the wrong continent, and online just doesn't inspire me: I want to pick this sort of book up and leaf through it.  

But then, my serendipitous moment: I was in a second-hand bookshop - we had only gone in because it was closing down and everything was £1 - where nothing was alphabetized; the shelves were just heaped willy-nilly which was briefly exhilarating and then, frankly, exhausting.  But for some reason Webster's popped into my mind and sure enough, there in the reference section, 3 volumes for £3. 

If you are still reading, I guess you are wondering what all the fuss is about.  So let me show you. 

Pick a colour - let's say pea green.  The Collins online dictionary defines this as a "yellowish-green colour". Websters?  Nothing so simple.  It has:

pea green: a variable color averaging a moderate yellow-green that is greener, lighter and stronger than average moss green, greener and lighter than mosstone and lighter and slightly stronger than spinach green.

And there is more.

Peach bisque (and who even knew that was a colour?) is: a light reddish brown that is redder and slightly deeper than copper tan and darker than monkey skin (and again, who knew that was a colour?)

Dusty orchid: a variable color averaging a pale reddish purple that is bluer and duller than anenome.

In fact, just under 'dusty' there is dusty aqua, dusty aqua blue, dusty aqua green, dustry cedar, dusty copen blue, dusty coral, dusty green, dusty jade green, dusty lavendar,  lilac and mauve, dusty olive, orange,peach, periwinkle blue, pink, rose, turquoise,  turquoise blue and turquoise green, not forgetting dusty yellow.

Two things I love, really love about all this. Firstly that everything is relative, every shade is described in relation to others, each tone is brighter, lighter, stronger, paler, deeper than something else.  Secondly that somehow there are now hundreds more colours in my head and I don't think it was under-populated to start with.  Now I want to know exactly what flossflower blue is, or Brittany, or colonial rose, or spray green...You see?  I could go on for hours.

Maryline Coullioud, of Mary and Patch, has a series of posts on 'Color Vibrations', based on the idea of working with numerous, closely related shades of an individual colour.  I had always liked these, but now it's gone a step further.

Suddenly a whole new world of colour, of infinitely minute but precise distinctions between shades and tones has been opened up for me and if my head weren't already buzzing, this would definitely be enough set me off.


Unknown said...

What wonderful reading. It would keep me happy for hours. How many colours have they fitted into three volumes? You will never look at colours in the same way again.

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

Having words and language to describe things fully can really open my eyes, mind, and heart. And all those descriptions are just so scrumptious. Congratulations on the excellent find! Have you found the descriptions to be influencing any decisions yet?

audrey said...

I do love color. So interesting all the new names they've come up with and then there are the Kona colors getting very popular!

Quiltdivajulie said...

What a truly marvelous post!!!

Janie said...

Color is great isn't it? Smoky Plum, ochre, sienna, violet, just saying the names conjures up mystical journeys. Lots of fun.

Lara B. said...

That is so cool Kaja! It really gets me wondering if, in general, people care less about color and art in these days of constant assualts on our senses. Maybe we need to be in a quieter state to really notice all the nuances of color.

Ann said...

It took a while to go through all your links. Wonderful! I love the descriptions - although they make my head spin when I try to put them in a linear order. Your fabric photos are so luscious I want to start something NOW.

Soma @ inkTorrents.com said...

I am extremely colour obsessed as well! Since I look at paper piecing as drawing, I not only look for the right colours, but specific shades as well. It is quite interesting too how colours change when they are looked at in conjunction with other colours. Fabulous post, Kaja!


Stephie said...

Your excitement is palpable, Kaja! I suppose it's no surprise my favourite colour names are the colours of artists' paints...cerulean, Windsor emerald (made by Windsor and Newton!), vermillion, ultramarine, Naples yellow - they're just so evocative for me. In the post about dictionary colour definitions though this made me laugh: " "Sea pink," I murmured, and incurred the harumphing wrath of my neighbor. As he stalked off to find a quieter corner, I wanted to stand up and shout, "I grew up 1,500 miles from an ocean! I didn't know the sea was pink!"" Umm, well it isn't, but there is a plant called sea pink (or thrift)...which comes in a delicate shade or five...of pink!!! How odd to think you can be 1,500 miles from the sea! Great post Kaja - and such a luscious selection of fabrics, yum!

Lynette said...

:) Hehe!! I love the infinitude of color, too. I frequently want JUST the right shade for something, which has resulted in a huge stash. But that's not a bad thing so long as you have storage space for it! Those color names certainly are intriguing, and I'm not sure I'd be able to figure out exactly what they mean all the time - but it makes for super interesting reading!

Cathy said...

Serendipitous moment indeed! Don't know which versions of Webster are on my bookshelf but I must go look.

Color me anything but blue! Color is my anti-depressant.