Friday, 18 July 2014

Colours and how they have changed … Primary – Chromatic


On a warm summer’s day with the bells of the Glockenspiel ringing in my ears I walked through Leicester Square to see the Making Colour exhibition, at the National Gallery off Trafalgar Square …

Art and Science coming together

… an opportunity to see the wide-ranging materials used to create colour in paintings.   These worlds of art and science, and how we see colour has been fascinating me – a non-artist, but always a learner – for a while …


A few years ago there was a tv programme on the Himba people of Namibia and how they perceive colour … very differently from us … having had the privilege of being able to visit the Himba tribe on a visit with my mother to the Skeleton Coast and Namibia …

A member of the Himba
tribe of Namibia


… obviously this whetted my learning appetite, and I’m lucky my brain remembers, so whenever dyes and pigments are discussed I am interested to see more.


… the mechanics of colour vision are complex … and we each are different … colour, along with light, shadow and movement, defines everything we see.  But what do we see? 


The exhibition opens new ideas about colour not before thought about … how we perceive and register colour … how the brain and the eye respond to colour in unexpected ways …
Recreated a Medieval Palette - details and on how
to make an illuminated manuscript can be found at
Randy Asplund's site - photo c/o his website


The natural world gives us many colours, but they are not permanent … so artists have always strived for a way to ensure the colour lasts – their work holds its own … at least during their life-time!


The exhibition starts with the early handbooks and instruction manuals transmitted from master to pupil, and from workshop to workshop by tradition and example.


The 14th century Cennino Cennini (1370 – 1440) was an Italian painter influenced by Giotto … and is remembered mainly for having authored “Il libro dell’arte”, often translated as The Craftsman’s Handbook: ‘the how’ to on Renaissance art … and interestingly other advice on lifestyle etc…


Moses Harris' (1730 - 1788) early colour wheel
Seen at a recent Exhibition at the Royal
Pavilion, Brighton - more informationcan be found here; photo c/o site



Early art (pre-history) relied mainly on plants and coloured minerals – pigments … surprisingly some are local, other appear to have been brought it …






Egyptian Book of the Dead
c 1300 BC
… early dyestuffs evolved … the Egyptian civilisation is distinguished by its wide use of colour.  To the reds and yellows of pre-history, the Egyptians added dark and light blues, greens, violet, white, and gold.


New painting techniques evolved  … the proper preparation of the surface and the use of different binders to create the painting and ensure its durability … as we can see in the legacies of painting or objects we know today …


They were the first society to give us a chromatic palette – albeit a natural one – which is incomparably richer than its prehistoric kin.


Barrel of Ochre
However to return to the exhibition … this is concerned with paints and pigments of the medieval era and the mediums used to stabilise them on application … and on to the industrial chemistry of the 19th century – opening new doors … often unintentional … for artists and for other disciplines.


Colour palettes … were first set out by the physician Theodore de Mayerne (1573 – 1654/5) in his ‘de Mayerne manuscript’, then others including Moses Harris produced colour (the Prismatic) wheels …


Newton investigating optics
c/o Science Ray

… before Newton, in the early 1800s, with his mathematical eye, who had first demonstrated that white light could be separated into pure prismatic colours and that these colours could be recombined to make white light again.




Newton also systemised colours: he arranged the colours of the spectrum in a circle that placed complementaries opposite each other.  (Complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined in the right proportions, produce white or black).


Verdigris or
Copper Carbonate

We then move into the Exhibition and chambers to see the different artist’s palette in relation to various paintings and objects from the National Gallery itself, or a few precious items from other sources – art collections, Natural History Museum, private collections …


The Virgin in Prayer by Sassoferrato
(1640-50) c/o National Gallery


… explaining how each pigment is made, applied or ‘set’, how the materials were prepared etc … with an art work to show the colour, a video to explain some of the techniques, various charts giving further explanations, some ground pigments and mediums to show the differences …




We use three primary colours since human colour vision is trichromatic … but we are forever exploring and searching out new ideas, new ways of looking at colour … at the world around us …

  • Each colour of the rainbow is explored … starting with
  •  
  • ·       the beautiful, brilliant blues … signifying richness
  •  
  • ·       then greens as important components of the palette as reliable blue … as essential to the landscape as blue skies with yellow suns
  •  
  • ·       reds indispensable for all painters (and purple) … displaying wealth, or mixing the red plant dyes to over-glaze and bring out the translucency of colours
  •  
  • ·       opaque strong yellows (and orange) – sunlight … or mixed with other traditional artificial pigments …
  •  
  • ·       Whites, browns and blacks – the natural earth colours …
  •  
  • ·        Gold and Silver – where gold could be beaten to tissue fineness – a Florentine florin is the best … an artist could get 100 sheets from one florin …
  •  
  • … gold which does not refract, therefore brightens the space where it is used, or displayed … as too silver … both will glitter out of tapestries, shine out in processions …

Degas'  "La Coiffure" (c1896) - used three reds
Details and explanation of painting and colours
can be found here ... photo c/o The Science of Art



I asked earlier “What do we see?” – this I will need to come back to … to be able to give a reasonable explanation, or to open your thoughts to these challenging concepts …









Visitors with chromatic suitcase
The exhibition finishes with a scientific experiment that I didn’t check out – but now I’ve ‘researched’ the notes I had on the Himba peoples of Namibia, remembered about synaesthesia and colour, and drafted this post … I will, as one journalist advised, make a second visit … so the whole can fall into place.



I also need to check out The National Gallery exhibition again … but as I ventured into the sunshine from this wonderful exhibition – what should I be greeted with but a mass of people with chromatic colours all around …










Should you glance on mornings lovely
Lift to drink the heaven’s blue
Or when, sun veiled by sirocco,
Royal red sinks out of view –
Give to Nature praise and honour
Blithe of heart and sound of eye,
Knowing for the world of colour
Where its broad foundations lie.”

Making Colour Exhibition at the National Gallery, London 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

75 comments:

Patsy said...

I used to paint a bit and getting the colour right was probably my strong point. I liked adding tiny touches of other shades until I'd captured exactly the purple of a petal or whispy grey of a cloud.

Colour is important to me in the garden too. It's fun putting plants together trying to get them to compliment or contrast so they bring out the best in each other (it's great when people to that too!)

I've nominated you for the versatile blogger award, but I think you've already seem that.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

How amazingly awesome that you had visited the Himba tribe before. Not many people can say something like that. I am fascinated by the idea that different cultures perceive color differently. I had never heard of that before. This is yet another example of how I always learn something different when visiting your blog :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So how do the Himba people see color? Is there a way to reproduce it so we'd understand? And yes, wild you have visited that tribe.

Karen Walker said...

I'm with Keith and Alex - amazing you got to visit the Himba tribe. And I, too, would love to know how they perceive color differently from us. You are amazing, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - many thanks for the award - I've noted and am grateful for all versatile thoughts!

I can't paint for toffee - but I still love colours .. and especially in the gardens - they are gorgeous to look at ..

@ Keith - I was lucky .. it was a trip my mother wanted to take - so we went to Namibia for 10 days and jeeped through it and camped ... had a geologist guide: it was exceedingly interesting ..

I'll have to write the post about the colour - I need to go to London again first to see the scientific exhibition, which I missed out ..

@ Alex - looks like a post coming up on how the Himba see colour and yes there is a way I could explain it ...

I was lucky to have had that trip with my mother up the Skeleton Coast and inland ..

@ Karen - it was an incredible trip - I've still got my notes from it ...

Their understanding of colours is fascinating to know about .. I'll do the post fairly soon ..

Thanks everyone - the Himba seem to have caught your eyes! Cheers Hilary

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Just thought I get over here between going through the hectic upheaval of my pending move. My internet will be off at this place in a week's time.

Now then, back to your posting. You have such incredible experiences, Hilary. To have been able to visit the Himba tribe with your beloved mother.

Your colourful posting, articulate and comprehensive, has given me a new hue on things. I do wonder about colour perception. How do I know that the green you see is the same green that I see, for instance.

Thank you, my kind friend. Enjoy the sunny weekend weather.

Cheers,

Gary

Julia Hones said...

I agree with Gary. What an amazing experience it must have been to visit the Himba tribe.
Very interesting post, Hilary.
I believe colours influence our moods.
Nature has a fascinating way of using all the colours of the rainbow.
I used to paint with chalk pastel so I find colors intriguing and fascinating. I'm not doing it these days, but I may go back to it in the future... Painting taught me to see the world differently. I notice how the light changes the mood of a landscape. I notice physical details of plants and how light interacts with them. There is so much to say about the process of observing the world around us through the eyes of a painter...

Southpaw said...

One of my favorite subjects! I'm still amazed when I go the the Museum of Fine Arts and see one of the old master painting with such vibrant blues!

Oh and I remember in college (Art History) we had to paint with primitive dies, brushes, and canvas (mine was bark!)

Sue McPeak said...

Hilary...I so enjoyed this post, and appreciate your sharing the Making Color Exhibition. Like the other commenters, I am in awe of your having visited Namibia and even more impressed that you took notes. How wonderful to have them. You are a SAVER, too.

As part of my Masters degree in Art, I am familiar with the history of color, but it was quite nice to read your review about the medieval era and after. A great post and it looks like it will have a sequel or two. Will look forward to those.

Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

Jannie Funster said...

So amazing the fascination with color and wheels of it so early on.

And I am reminded of a song called "Namibia" we used to listen to a lot, I believe that may have been by artist Nagee,(Najee?) but I am not sure. will have to Google it now. What a lovely bright song.

Wonderful to hear of the travels with your mother. All the memories of the fascinating places you were able to visit.

And who knew Newton was so good looking??!! :)

xoxooxoox to you and all from me, BB, and all here.

xooxoxoxo again.

J E Oneil said...

Color has such a fascinating role in our culture. It's always amazed me that some places don't distinguish between red and orange or green and blue.

cleemckenzie said...

And with the perception of color comes the language to describe it. So fascinating this perception and our ability/inability to tell others what we know or feel.

You are one amazing traveler, Hilary. Lovely.

Munir said...

Those are some beautiful colours as long as they don't go in our food. Here in the US I am so bothered with artificial colours that I look every where for natural colours.

Christine Rains said...

Fascinating! It's amazing to think that humans across the globe perceive colour differently. People generally think it's biology, and maybe part of it is, but it's as much culture too. It's wonderful that you get to travel and meet so many folks.

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. Very interesting, as usual. Gary asked an important question about how do I know that your vision of a colour exactly matches mine? I don't think we can know that.
I am a watercolour painter and there is a wonderful artist's shop in Great Russell Street near the British Museum where they sell everything needed to make ones own colours. They have rows of jars like a Victorian chemist shop. It's a wonderful place to visit.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I look forward to reading your upcoming post on how the Himba see color differently!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

This makes perfect sense. I'm a Taurus, hence I love whites, browns and blacks. And I want to be rich, hence I love blues. Thanks for helping me understand this, Hilary!

This was fascinating.

Gattina said...

That would have been something for me ! I always mix my colors myself, I only have the basic colors red, blue,yellow, black and white. From there I compose all colors. I learned that in Art school and loved it. On Thursday I leave for Eastbourne ! Hope the weather will be good to me !

Jo said...

Gary mentioned something I have often wondered, how do I know that what you see is the same as I see? You do get to some interesting places, I just discovered there is a museum quite close to us and they are doing something about Egyptology.

I will be interested in the Himba post too.

I used to paint but haven't done so in years.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gary – thanks for making the effort and I’ve emailed you re all the best for your move ..

Thanks too for your ‘shadowing’ of my post .. I was very lucky to have that journey and it was definitely one she treasured. It’s an amazing part of the world …

Very hot today, mighty stormy last night, now it’s cool .. good luck with your move ..

@ Julia – it was an incredible journey to have been on .. and to be able to go inland to visit the Himba tribe … though I’d know more now and would like to repeat it .. perhaps?!

Colours definitely affect us don’t they – that’s why the try and get the colours right for public buildings, for school corridors, hospital rooms etc .. But nature is quite amazing – the rainbow colours are just stunningly produced …

Lots of artists amongst you reading bloggers! … I’d love to have that talent – it’s in the family, but not in me – sadly … perhaps once I’ve finished my posts I’ll have a better idea of things – I teach myself much .. and will look at the world differently ..

@ Holly – the exhibition was showing us what happened to pigments if they weren’t ‘permanent’ .. and one was a Hendrick ter Brugghen – a Man playing a Lute 1624 .. where his smalt blue sleeve has faded badly – because smalt colours didn’t last …

How fantastic to have the opportunity to paint with primitive dyes, brushes from bark onto canvas .. fascinating – I’ll be posting about that too ..

@ Sue – delighted you’ve enjoyed the post – way too many artists amongst you bloggers! Just glad I didn’t trip up .. I wrote up about the trip after we got back to Johannesburg .. so I didn’t forget, also my mother appreciated the letter, notes and maps and photo album – though they were all ‘simply’ done .. they are interesting to look at over time .. now nearly 30 years ago …

I’m glad I didn’t disappoint another Art Master! … more to follow, as you mention …

@ Jannie – so good to see you and I’ve been over to say hi and have a brief catch up …

Was the “Namibia” song you mentioned by Gabriel Nagee – he was the only one I could find … I’d love to know which song it was … I’ll try and remember and email you …

It was a great trip we had together up the Skeleton Coast to the border with Angola … and then inland to the Himba before back to Windhoek and Johannesburg …

Ah Newton – it’s a good image I found .. seemed to fit the post perfectly .. I thought … ?! I’m sure he wasn’t that pretty! Good to hear from you and BB, Hardwick and I send much love back xoxox

@ Jeanne – I think probably those colours were the ones the Himba perceived differently .. and then they had some programmes on synthesia .. which is a fascinating subject …

@ Lee – I found some interesting thoughts on the descriptions of colours from way back when .. and our perception and intuition to interpret colours … the brain is amazing how over millennia we recognise green as green …

The journey with my mother was a real treat …

@ Munir - food colouring is dodgy isn't it .. I try and eat everything as fresh and natural as possible - so I agree you're wise going in that direction ..

Part 2 following ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Part 2 of the comments ...


@ Christine – the way we communicate and see things is so interesting isn’t it … and colour and the way we interpret it … the brain has been ingrained over millennia …

Thanks re the travelling .. at least I can remember things here that relate to my blogging …

@ Bazza – thanks so much – Gary is perceptive … and I don’t know how we do .. but somewhere along the line many of us seem to see the ‘same’ colour and communicate it that way … it’s a challenging concept and thought process isn’t it …

I go to the British Museum fairly often – and next time I’m there .. I’ll visit your paint shop – it sounds amazing … what fun to see jars of paints like a chemists shop … and another artist as part of the blogging fraternity ..

@ Dianne – yes I have some research to do first … to remember exactly how it was explained .. I think I have my notes … thanks though for encouraging me on …

@ Joylene – a bull in a china shop .. white china, brown crushed pottery and then the black bull … with plenty of blue bruises to show for it .. I wonder what January’s colours are …

Just delighted you enjoyed the post …

@ Gattina – well done .. and lucky you for you having studied art and being able to create your own palette …

Well we’re cooling down .. but who knows for next week – you’ll bring the weather with you remember!! See you then sometime ..

@ Jo – I know the more we question the more we struggle to understand .. I guess it must be imprinted in us – but I’ll add another post or two or three as I go along …

I hope you get to see the Egyptology exhibition at your local museum .. it’ll be very good I’m sure – small is sometimes better – less to distract one …

Thanks everyone for your support ... blogger ate my earlier comment reply somewhere along the line … frustrating to put it mildly!

Still I’m so pleased you’ve all enjoyed the post about the Exhibition “Making Colour” part one of ???!!

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year, furious storms last night and I thought we were about to get storms this evening .. but so far it’s cooled right down and the storms have gone inland … it was very very hot earlier .. cheers Hilary

Inger said...

Reading your blog feels like going back to school -- in the very best sense.

Also, reading this, and the previous post, how I miss old London Town. You know I love it here in the canyon, but thinking about all the things to see and do in a city like London, I miss it.

bazza said...

See http://www.cornelissen.com/
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - I'm glad you took time out to come over - thank you .. I thought you'd enjoy the posts and the memories of central London and London itself ...

Your canyon is beautiful ... but when I lived in South Africa, I felt isolated and away from things - something inbuilt ... so I understand what you're saying ..

@ Bazza - thanks for the link across to the paint shop - what wonderful photos .. I shall definitely visit ...

Cheers to you both ... Hilary

Friko said...

I really wish I lived nearer to London; you visit so many exhibitions which would interest me too.

An exhibition on colour, how unexpected, yet how interesting.

rosieamber said...

Hi Hilary - I lovely quote at the end and an interesting post, thansk

Susan Scott said...

Thanks so much for this Hilary! Loved it! (how come I don't automatically receive your posts .. I remember now checking this out before).
My father was colour blind though flew for the RAF; my elder son who is an animator is colour blind, and the younger to a lesser degree.
I am not so good with mixing paints, though I do try.
The history of pigments and dyes is such an interesting topic ... Loved also the 'Art and Science coming together' picture.

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

Color means so much to me and I'm sure everyone else. Try describing color to someone whose never seen it. Wow.

Sounds like a wonderful exhibition, Hilary and a wonderful and informative post.

Lexa Cain said...

I had no idea about the 'colorful' history of color. I especially loved the info about Egypt! Thanks!

mail4rosey said...

I can see that you are a learner, and a sharer of what you've learned too!

I think this is fun/very interesting. The walk in Trafalgar Square, though only lightly mentioned, made me happy too. :)

Suzanne Furness said...

I am fascinated by how different colours effect our mood. They can be uplifting, calming, energizing... amazing really.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Friko - I am glad I'm within reach of London .. but it would be even better if we could meet up for the odd exhibition - it was a fascinating exhibition to visit .. brought back some memories of other programmes I'd seen or heard about on colour .. and my mother's trip into Namibia ..

@ Rosie - I enjoyed the Goethe's quote and thought it worth putting in .. glad you enjoyed it ...

@ Susan - perhaps the link hasn't got into the feed you use? I can only do my own things!

Interesting about colour blindness - this didn't really come into the exhibition - but I'll have to see what the survey is about, when I get back up this week I hope ..

I think if you are colour blind you adjust ... as your boys have done apparently ..clever lads ...

The history of pigments and dyes is a fascinating topic ... and thanks re the poster of Art and Science ..


@ Teresa - colour does mean so much to us .. it has healing properties ... but trying to describe colour to someone who has never seen it - is an interesting thought isn't it ..

It was a very interesting exhibition and I'll be adding I hope to that knowledge with some more information ...

@ Lexa - there's so much to learn isn't there .. but I'm glad you enjoyed the snippet about Egyptian colours ... I'll be doing more on them ..

@ Rosey - yes I learn and share .. which is the best bit I think. The Trafalgar Square wander was just a short toddle along after my trip down from Leicester Square ..

@ Suzanne - colours do affect us don't they - as too make us look sallow, or fresh-faced ... and as we enter rooms or spaces - the colour that emanates can, as you say, be uplifting, calming, energising ...

Thanks everyone - so pleased you enjoyed the post ..

L.G. Smith said...

Great information. I've always loved the colors in the medieval illustrated books and have always wondered about how they made their inks. The Egyptians had it all figured out, though. They seemed to have known everything first. :)

Denise Covey said...

I love the symbolism of colour which I always teach to my students, but you have just added so much to what I already knew. Thanks Hilary. People who don't know what to blog about need to pay you a visit!

I don't know if you caught my blog post awhile ago when I talked about the psychology of colour and how our blogs can be reflective of us. So true.

Denise

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Luanna - it certainly made me look further into colours and where 'they came' from .. they do fascinate .. and the Egyptians certainly worked it all out ..

@ Denise - what a good idea to include the symbolism of colour when teaching your students ... I did see your post about colour - but now definitely need to re-read and inwardly digest ..

Here's the link if anyone is interested .. http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/colour-choosing-colour-to-suit-your.html

I'll be writing more about colour as soon as I can ...

Cheers to you both - Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

Colour is such a fascinating subject. I love colour and always have, and so did my mother. She would never wear black and nor do I, apart from skirt or pants. Thanks Hilary.

Marja said...

I love colours My daughter too She is an artist and works with very bright colours. I colourful poem is beautiful I recently learned that we see colours because everything absorbs colours. if something absorbs all colours of the light you see black. if something is blue it absorbs all colours except blue
So you need light to see colours

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Hilary. A great post on colors. The exhibition sounds quite interesting. I checked out this link for more information: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/making-colour

I think that is so cool that you were able to visit the Himba tribe. Perhaps you will share more about that visit in a future post?

D Biswas said...

Love this feast of colors and beauty-- thank you so much for this, Hilary.

Karen Lange said...

It is interesting to think of how we view the variations of color. I suppose it is somewhat similar to how we might view a certain situation - although the elements are the same, we all see things from a personal angle. Thanks so much for this wonderful post; it reminds me to appreciate the hues that surround us every day. Have a great week! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Fascinating information. As a photographer, I've studied a lot on color. Red, blue and yellow are the primary colors, but not in photography - then it's green, cyan, and magenta.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Fascinating history and information about color. Thanks for the info and the bright, vibrant post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - it is a fascinating subject isn't it .. and I've got some great comments here to add into the mix .. I do wear black on occasions - as it matches other things .. and like you I love colour ..

@ Marja - yes how we see colours is a fascinating aspect - I hope I can explain it in an understandable way ... and as you say all the colours can be absorbed but we only see black ..

I'll check this out re the need for light to see colours ..

@ Susanne - the exhibition is just fantastic and I learnt so much .. thanks for the link here .. it is in small print at the bottom of the post ... but blogger changes the size of the font occasionally as in the Goethe link ..

I will write something about the Himba and colour .. and then I'll do a post about the Skeleton coast in due course ...

@ Damyanti - thanks for the visit .. glad you enjoyed the feast of colours and beauty ...

@ Karen - it is such a challenging subject for us to understand .. colour is real, yet ephemeral .. and yes we do see colours as we see them, perhaps not exactly as you and I would see them ...

Great comment - appreciate the hues around us and enjoy our beautiful natural surroundings ..

@ Diane - thanks for that information on colours ... I hadn't realised the differences between photographic primary colours and the colours I expect to be primary .. Red, Blue and Yellow ..

@ Tyrean - great to see you here .. and so pleased you enjoyed the post .. it is a bright and vibrant post isn't it ..

Thanks everyone .. cheers to you all .. Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That sounds like a fabulous exhibit, but I'm really intrigued with your comment about Himbas seeing colors differently. Are you saying the entire tribe experiences synesthesia?! How extraordinary! I can hardly wait to read THAT post!

Ann Best said...

Your post highlights the truth that our Planet Earth is indeed filled with amazing colors. Colors that are captured for us for a time by talented artists and photographers (who are artists). Colors that have been celebrated by brilliant writers such as Goethe. Fascinating stuff!

JJ said...

Fabulous post! I am also not an artist, but I do teach art history courses and I am fascinated with the subject. There is so much more to the art world than many people realize, and colour is an important part of it part of it.

I am very interested in how the Himba people see colour differently.

Theresa Milstein said...

Perception of color fascinates me. What does it appear like to each beholder? My husband cannot tell gray from tan. I took that Facebook color spectrum test and got 100%. My son told me ancient Greeks didn't perceive blue, which is strange because it's on their flag today. What did they see when they looked at the sky and sea?

That last picture, is it a painting? If so, it's really impressive!

Learning so much from you, as always.

Margie said...

I would have loved that exhibition.
Wonderful post and how wonderful that you visited the Himba tribe

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - it was a fascinating exhibition .. and a few years ago the BBC had some tv programmes about the Himba .. it might be more than just seeing colours differently ...

Synesthesia was also discussed deeply in another tv programme ..

I have to dig out the details .. but I'll write it up ..

@ Ann - we are all inspired or depressed by colour at times ... but you're so right the Earth is just so pretty .. and we're lucky we can see sights from days gone by ...

@ JJ - gosh you teach art history - it must be such an amazing subject ... and yes I'm beginning to realise that there is so much more to the art world than we realise ...

I'll post soon on the Himba ...

@ Theresa - exactly what do we each see in colour ... and I'm fascinated about the Greeks not being able to perceive blue ... and I'll try and find out more ...

The last picture is a google image - that seemed to fulfil Goethe's poem ... hence it got put in ..

@ Margie - it is an amazing exhibition ... and the Namibian visit was amazing ..

Cheers everyone and thanks so much for all your comments - Hilary

Sara said...

Another fascinating post. What's amazing to me is how artists from the past were able to maintain the color of their pictures. They had to be part scientist and part artist!

I echo others about wanting a post about the Himba tribe and how they see color.

It's also interesting how color is associated with emotions.

This must have been a very interesting exhibit and thank you for sharing your visit with us:~)

Patricia said...

Another fascinating post Hilary and I liked the direction your research took you. I have a child who loves color and always picked the most colorful shades in her clothing. Her ideas are very different from mine and I can see her calling to color.
I have been following Terrill Welch's blog the Creative Potager as she prepares canvas and paint to explore the Landscape and seascape of her Beloved Mayne Island British Columbia Canada. Her work has been featured recently on Google Canada's home page. I so like how she share her creative story.
Terrill has just finished 5 month tour of UK, France, Spain, Italy, and other stops to paint in the location of her travels. I am loving her translations onto the canvas and her interpretations of color.

I am just returning to the blog world after my fall and all this jaw surgery - it is marvelous to be able to chew again and enjoy colorful foods of the season.

Hope you are staying cool. We are having a reprieve of cool and cloudy Whew!

Fil said...

Sounds like a fabulous exhibition Hilary ... I envy artists who know exactly what to do with colour.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm also impressed that you visited the Himba tribe with your mum. It's fascinating how they see colors differently. Now I will definitely not take colors for granted anymore.
Thanks Hilary!

Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - that's the interesting bit some of the paints used didn't last - they faded ... so then the colour faded, others the other colours within the faded one changed colour .. I'll give examples next time ..

I dug my own notes out about our trip into Namibia yesterday, and I've got to check re the colours but found something about it ..

Colours do affect us don't they ..

Glad you enjoyed the post .. more following ..

@ Patricia - good to see you .. and that you've recovered from the fall and the jaw surgery.

I remember you mentioned Terrill Welch's blog before - she's obviously very talented - good for her.

It's still very hot here and will be for another few days ..

@ Fil - thanks for coming over .. it's just interesting learning about how they created the paints and the effect of their art ...

I too would love to be able to draw ...

@ Julie - it was a very lucky trip .. and one I can happily remember - but about 20 years later finding out the Himba see colours differently was so interesting ..

Lovely to see you ... today the Commonwealth Games starts ... and it's still really warm ... cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

What a wonderful exhibit! I have been to that museum, on a visit several years ago. I had to drag my nieces through it, but I loved it there.

I think blue will always be my favorite hue.

Crystal Collier said...

What a fascinating exhibit! It's been a while since I focused on art, but you make me want to jump back in and explore with this post. Well, when time is unlimited, I'll be the person experimenting with new dyes and combinations. =)

M Pax said...

So how do the people of Namimbia see color? That's really fascinating.

I suppose because of eyes, etc... probably no two people perceive color the same. It's really interesting. Wish I could have gone to the exhibit with you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - it's a great museum isn't it - this was in the new wing where they have a large exhibition space and a few other areas - the art is still in the main galleries.

Blue is a great colour and I think I favour things with a touch of blue ..

@ Crystal - that's great to read you enjoy art so much, and so much so that you experiment with new dyes and combinations .. brilliant to be able to do that .. it must be fascinating ..

@ Mary - I'll get to the great Namib question in a couple of weeks ..

Oddly it's not about their eyes - they (the scientists) think it's probably to do with their brain which connotates the colour differently ...

I'd love you all to come to the Exhibit with me .. cheers Hilary

Trisha F said...

I never really got the hang of the mechanics of colour, even though I studied Art in school and still do fine art works today. I guess it's a bit like how I never really learned to read music properly, and don't know how to write a song in a specific key - but I still make music. Guess I'm just throwing stuff around and seeing what comes of it!

But I would actually like to know more about the mechanics behind these things.

I find it fascinating to think that colours can be made out of naturally-occurring plants/fruit/etc.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I'm not a painter, but I love color. Most variations of purple top my list, with pink a close second.

Has anyone done a study on color preferences? We're all so unique in our likes and dislikes.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Trisha - it's funny how some people can be so talented just by being so .. lucky you .. wonderful talent to have.

Trisha you may end up like me ... taking to learning late in life.

It's wonderful how throughout the life of man he's been so inventive .. that's why the scientists today are very involved at looking at new science ...

We are an amazing race ... just hope we don't blow it ...

@ Susan - I think we all love colour in some way .. purple is very fashionable at the moment - and like you pink resonates, while I love brighter colours -

Thanks so much - good to see you both .. cheers Hilary

Tara Tyler R said...

a rainbow of colorful information today! beautiful research and discovery! was fun exploring the origins of coloring with you =) as usual!

and thanks for supporting my bbf blog tour! sorry i haven't been over here in a while. glad i came on such a pretty day!

LittleCely said...

I had no idea that it was Newton who came up with the color wheel. This post was great. I normally draw in black and white but have been thinking about giving color a try. And color as you very well know has different rules so this was an especially interesting read for me. Thanks Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

I love colour. It can change moods and looks and emotions. When I first went to water colour painting classes I was frustrated at how difficult it is to produce accurate colour on the paper though.

Rosalind Adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Tara - just glad you enjoyed your rainbow visit and the information I gave you here ...

Please support your BBF tour - no worries about how often you come by - always good to see you ..

@ LittleCely - it's interesting who found what ... and how innovations come through into our lives ... Newton by splitting light really opened the door on optics ..

I love black and white art and have quite a few 'paintings' in my flat that are just black and white ..

But colour - well that's great if you decide to branch on out ... it must be wonderful to be able to paint ... it's something I simply seem unable to do ..

@ Ros - you're so right about colour changing looks, moods and thus emotions ... I'm sure painting is a huge art ...

Perhaps once your projects are completed - you can relax into doing some painting?

Thanks to the three of you ... lovely to have your comments - cheers Hilary

Lisa said...

I'm not an artist either, but my kids and my husband have that tendency and I have always enjoyed color. I like flowers in my garden and leaves that change color throughout the year. I wish I could see this exhibition. It sounds like it was fascinating. I'd like to hear more on the Himba Tribe and why they see colors differently than we do!

Sherry Ellis said...

Excellent post on colors! The exhibition sounds interesting. That's also great that you visited the Himba tribe. That had to be an amazing experience.

Theresa Milstein said...

Hilary, you may have seen this since you mention Egypt, but I thought I'd pass this link along: http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-technology/egyptian-blue-oldest-artificial-pigment-ever-produced-001745#!bnovT5

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lisa - it's great that your children have the artistic touch and I too love colours in the garden and landscape ...

The exhibition is great - I'll be going again to take the survey re their colour investigation .. eyes and brains and how we all see differently ...

Once I've done that - then I'll post on the Himba and other aspects ...

@ Sherry - many thanks ... the exhibition is extraordinary, while the Skeleton Coast safari was a wonderful experience - I was very lucky ...

@ Theresa - I hadn't actually seen that link ... so thanks for passing it on - especially as it has some wonderful relevance to pigments and colours, while also looking at the possibilities of light's use in the future - I found that so interesting .. I'll include it when I do the seeing colour post/s ...

Cheers and thanks so much .. wonderful interaction - Hilary

loverofwords said...

Your post makes me want to jump on a plane, visit London for weeks and just see the museums. Colors are amazing psychologically too--they can lift a mood or not, inspire and delight, which your posts do--inspire and delight.

Brian Miller said...

where would we be without colour? have you ever heard of synesthesia? a mixing of the senses...so that some might actually taste a color...its quite fascinating...and the meaning that different cultures have attributed to colour is very cool as well...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nat - well I'd love to see you! Also I'd love to spend more time in London visiting museums, exhibitions and generally more of what's on offer ..

Thank you too - colours do psychologically charge us don't they? But I'm delighted you find my posts have some value ...

@ Brian - where would we be without colour - very pale and dull! I have heard of synesthesia and have been wanting to write about it for a few years - yes life is like that!

It's on the list for the next or next but one colour post .. mid August ..

It (synesthesia) I quite agree is a fascinating subject, and then the different cultures and their colours .. yes - I will have some of that too ...

I'm going up to take the "Making Colour" survey at the end of the National Gallery Exhibition ... which I failed to do on my earlier visit ...

So at least two more posts in mid August to be written - a new one went up today ..

Cheers to you both - thanks so much - Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

Such a great post Hilary!
It's well known that we are faster in telling colours apart that have different names, but do the names determine the colors or the colors the names? Research shows that language has a stronger influence than what they previously thought. You can only see colours that you can name.
I've read about the Namibian tribe - really fascinating!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - that's interesting to know: that language has such a strong pull on our memory ... and we can only see colours we can name.

I'm glad I'm not the only one to have read/seen something about the Himba tribe in Namibia ... I'll be glad to have your input too .. when I get the post up ...

Cheers and thanks so much for giving us some extra info ... Hilary