Monday, May 30, 2011

June, a month of Artists' Birthdays

1 Red Grooms
2 Albert Besnard
3 Raoul Duffy
4 Jean-Louis Pascal
5 Matteo Civitali

6 Diego Velasquez
7 Paul Gaugain *

8 Frank Lloyd Wright
9 Hendik Hondius the Elder 
10 Gustave Courbet
11 John Constable
12 Egon Schiele
13 Christo
14 Margaret Bourke-White
15 Saul Steinberg
16 Jim Dine
17 M. C. Escher
18 Eugene Verboeckhoven
19 Thomas Sully-FATHER'S DAY
20 Kurt Schwitters
21 Henry O. Tannera--FIRST DAY OF SUMMER
22 Hiroma Hara
23 Juande Zubaran
24 Robert Henri
25  Antonio Gaudi
26 Frances Palmer
27 Philip Guston
28 Peter Paul Rubens
29 John Word
30 Horace Vernet

* The Yellow Christ, by Paul Gaugain, is supposedly a self-portrait by the artist.

Check out your birthday artist by typing his/her name into Google search for more details about works.

Tints: Peach

The American Heritage Dictionary defines tint as: "A pale or delicate variation; tinge or a gradation of a color made by adding white to it to lessen its saturation." Pink is the offspring of the marriage of red and white, peach is the byproduct of adding white to orange, which is a secondary color composed of red and yellow. Peach is a lush color which brings to mind juicy fruits and human flesh. Illustrated below is a painting by Korean born, New York based artist Jisso Lee. Her gorgeous works are on display at the Earlville, New York Opera House Arts Center's East Gallery through July 2, 2011.

Above: "Peach", Oil on Canvas, 2010
Artist's Statement:
"I focus in light and color. They are evocative elements.
Light fascinates me. I find many kinds of light attractive, such as the sun, candles, and even artificial light. Light makes things seem more clear or blurry, but sometimes images look distorted by refraction of light. It is fun to find some intriguing images while they are under light. By transposing images on a canvas, my work reminds you of the natural state of nature through the human body, fruits and flowers. However in some paintings, colors stand alone themselves without narrative's support. The reflections of light draw my emotion into an illusional world. 
My painting begins with selecting colors.
Colors have different meanings in various cultures and the meaning of colors can change as time goes by. Many of the effects of color on our moods may be the result of social and psychological associations with a particular color. These associations vary from person to person and from culture to culture, making it difficult to define the meaning of color within themselves. I hope the colors in my painting can bring up the moment of their own beautiful memories that people have."

Praise for Jisoo Lee:
"The pleasures to be found in Lee's current paintings-and they are many-derive in part from the imagery and in part from the elusiveness and sensitivity of that imagery, from the tension between the abstract and the figurative, heat and coolness, neutral form and pornographic brushwork, elegantly complex colors and modulated tonalities. As they waver between illusion and reality, they radiate a hothouse aura, an enigmatic charm."
-New York based independent curator, essayist and critic: Lilly Wei

Peach’s Claim to Fame

            Peach is pure perfection, complex and delicious, a combination of combinations. This variability gives tones and shades of melon, shrimp, salmon and apricot, a summer menu for the table or the garden. Mixing red with white to give pink and then adding yellow makes faded peach tints. Mixing red with yellow to give orange and then adding white yields more piquant shades. Such a complexity of hues means peach is diverse enough to combine with many colors to create interesting associations. Like the other pastels, peach is easily seen from a distance, yet its subtle charms can best be taken in at nose length. Its opalescent mother-of-pearl quality can be much more effective in a planting of flowers than is a flatter, more saturated primary or secondary color. It seems to add a three-dimensional, reflective element that sets a border shimmering in the garden.
            Peach is a compelling color, lending a unique lightness that neither pink nor yellow will provide; it can also be capricious and challenging. One would assume that peach could be slipped in to perform like any other pastel to harmonize with gray and silver or dark, shadowy colors, or to be enjoyed simply for its own pleasant and subtle appeal. Yet in some situations, the relationship and balance of the white with the red or yellow of peach will determine whether such a substitution works or not. When combining peach with gray, for instance, the peach must not be muted with too much white, otherwise so much light will be reflected from the composition that the definition of the color will be lost and the result might be insipid.
            Decorators know a super smooth sheetrock wall painted in flat, commercially mixed peach has as much appeal as a synthetically dyed polyester frock. The evenness and flatness leave both lifeless. By contrast, rough plaster walls washed or stippled with a naturally pigmented paint will have the same depth and luster as a piece of raw silk in which the uneven weave and slub take the dye in an irregular and interesting way. Brick, stone, wood and the natural mixture of foliage provide the earthiness this color needs.

"Peach once vied with black as the most elusive and sought after color for the garden; nowadays every seed catalog proudly announces new single-color selections or introductions in the peach range. If you want a pastel color, peach will usually do very nicely as a pleasant but less predictable alternative to pink or mauve, to be used in much the same way but bringing an element of subtlety and change to a planting.

Because of its complex composition, peach, in its vast range of tints and hues, can be used to enhance many planting areas. Flowers are sometimes bicolored pink and yellow, giving an impression of peach, which can be a great bonus.

When it comes to choosing a rose of peach tones, the gardener must be content with relatively modern ones, as the breeding of yellow into roses, which led to peach, did not become possible until 1830 when a yellow Noisette rose was created by crossing 'Blush Noisette' with 'Park's Yellow Tea-scented China.' Many peach colored roses followed and are as luxurious as the finest silken frou-frou ever seen in madame de Pompadour's boudoir. Let us praise these colors as Vira Sackville-West did when she saw them int he carpets of the Orient: 'Rich, rich they were, rich as a fig broken open, soft as a ripened peach, freckled as an apricot, coral as a pomegranate.'

Peach, the pastel form of orange, also combines well with blue, superbly set off by the cool tones of indigo, purple and plum, like the drama of late afternoon winter skies."
(This passage is from the lush book COLOR IN THE GARDEN by Nori and Sandra Pope.

Ripened to Perfection, peaches are coming into the markets. Fredericksburg, Texas, and the surrounding area have the golden globes available now. The peaches will generally be smaller this year due to the drought, but they will taste better because of a higher sugar content.

The following ripening dates can vary by 10 days or so, but one can look forward to tasting these varieties:
June Gold - May 25-June 5
Garnet Beauty - May 30-June 10
Sentinel/Gala - June 5-15
Harvester - June 10-25
Loring - June 19- July 10
Redglobe (my fav) June 25-July 10
Dixieland - July 10-25
Redskin - July 15-25
Jefferson - July 20-30
O'Henry - July 20-Aug. 5
Ouichita Gold - July 25-Aug. 10
Parade - Aug. 5-20

Monday, May 23, 2011

Citrus Fruits in Art

The Fruit of Promise: Citrus Fruits in Art and Culture at the Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg, Germany

The Italian sculpture 'Orange' from the 18th century is pictured during the exhibition
'Fruits of Promise.'
citrus fruits in art and culture' at the Germanic National museum in Nuremberg, Germany. The museum presents the world of citrus fruits with more than 200 objects from 13th century until 11 September 2011. EPA/DANIEL KARMANN.

Oranges and lemons are found in portraits since the 15th century. Varied meanings are tied up with the fruits. In the Baroque age, it was popular to symbolize the descent of a portrait subject from the Dutch ruling dynasty of Orange by a small fruit-bearing orange tree. Often a citrus fruit represented the social or moral status of the portrait subjects. But citrus fruits could also point to personal botanical preferences and to dream destinations in Southern climes.

Many 17th century  portraits of children show the portrayed subjects with a citrus fruit in their hand and a dog by their side. According to the conception of the time, the child as the fruit of the parents gradually gained maturity - hinted at by the citrus fruit - through the upbringing, symbolized by the dog.

Time and again citrus fruits were also associated with the subject of weddings, marriage and love. This traces back to the golden apples of the Hesperides which already in the classical myths were a wedding gift and a beauty prize.

Religion: Adam's Apple
Since time immemorial the citron has been playing an important part in the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, in which the gathering in of the harvest is celebrated for a week in fall. To this day it is used in the morning prayer, together with the festal bouquet of purple willow, myrtle and palm.

The citron, called “etrog” in the Talmud, is of highly symbolic value in the Jewish faith. As the fruit of the biblical 'goodly tree', it was equated with the fruit of the tree of knowledge, of which Adam and Eve ate. At the same time, the etrog symbolizes the Jewish hope of paradise.

Customs: Illness and Death
In German-speaking Europe, lemons and bitter oranges played an important part in various customs surrounding illness, death and funeral. The earliest known depiction of a deceased with a citrus fruit in his hand is to be found on the 1247/48 tomb of Count Henry of Sayn and his daughter. The citrus fruit symbolizes the hope of resurrection and eternal life.

It was primarily lemons that from the Baroque age to the mid-20th century were put into the hand of the laid-out body, carried by the mourners, the pall bearers and the clergyman in the funeral procession, and cast into the open grave of the deceased. By inhaling its strong scent people wanted to protect themselves from the smell of decay and from the communication of diseases. In the Baroque age, the number of lemons brought to a funeral procession served at the same time as an indicator of the prestige of the deceased and his family.

In addition, lemons in particular served as get-well gifts for sick people, due to their medicinal properties.

Still Life: A Feast for the Eyes and Sensuous Delight
Around 1600, still life painting developed in Italy and the Netherlands as a distinct genre from religious painting. Citrus fruits played an important part in them from the outset, which is attributable, apart from the fruits' exoticism and value, to their importance as a Marian symbol. This religious interpretation manifests itself in the simply composed Spanish fruit still lifes until the 17th century. However, the botanically exact documentation of the various citrus varieties was also a significant stimulus for their depiction, primarily in the Italian still lifes.

In the 17th century, the charging of the still life with inner meaning as well as the virtuosic composition of selected objects and citrus fruits was brought to a climax by the Dutch. In their paintings citrus fruits can be interpreted as an exhortation to moderation in the midst of portrayed luxury. At the same time the bright citrus fruits with their pitted skins and the transparently shimmering pulp provided an opportunity for the artists to display their skills. Insects, dew drops and traces of fruit decay added a theme of temporality to the still lifes and heightened the virtuosity by yet another element.

In the still lifes of the modern age, citrus fruits appear freed from any symbolic meaning, providing instead a scope for experiments with color and composition without, however, entirely breaking with the traditional formal canon.

Botany: Artifact and Miracle of Nature
For centuries well-to-do garden lovers and patricians in these climes have collected and enjoyed citruses. The scent of the delicate flowers, the bright colors of the fruit and the bitter-sweet taste of their juice made them something special. In the Middle Ages they had already found their way into many areas of life in Central Europe. They were coveted as seasoning and as remedies, for the strange and exotic was deemed particularly efficacious. Thus the illustrators of botanical books discovered the exotic plants, too. Examples from the incunabula era (1440-1500) reveal that the non-local plants were known from hearsay rather than first-hand. Only in the 16th century when botany was established as a scientific discipline were plants rendered realistically. As time passed, details like the development of the blossom and the ripening process of the fruit came more and more to the fore in the illustrations. It was the works of Maria Sibylla Merian that first elevated the illustration of plants to an art: She knew how to combine science and art.

Citrus Trade: Golden Apples Traveling
Some citrus varieties like sour lemons and thick-skinned citrons have been known to the Western world since antiquity. However, it is uncertain when trading with these and other citrus fruits began in Central Europe. Not until around 1400 is there increased evidence of goods traffic along Central European long-distance trade routes involving these exotic fruits.

The bustling activity in German cities has been recorded in so-called street cries since the late 16th century. These graphic works bear witness to the variety of commodities sold in large cities like Cologne, Hamburg or Vienna. The depicted vendors in most cases also include lemon vendors who with cries like “Beautiful lemons and oranges” try to bring the offered fruits to the attention of customers passing by. At that time tropical fruits have already ceased to be an exclusive luxury good that made its way only to the tables of royal and princely courts. Still they remain a special indulgence. The colorful orange wrappers in which the fruit has been wrapped since the 18th century to protect them from damage in transit and rot may perhaps be considered as the most obvious expression of their appreciation.

In the 19th century the worldwide cultivation of citrus fruits goes hand in hand with their growing consumption in broader levels of the population, both as fresh fruit and processed into lemonade. The two world wars of the 20th century mark a deep break here, too: In post-war Germany fresh oranges became a rarity again, of which we are reminded by their presence on German Christmas plates even today.

Table Culture: Culinary Art and Table Decoration
Citruses adorn the festive table in Italy and Spain as early as the beginning of the Renaissance.They are reproduced initially in faience, later in silver, porcelain and glass.

In Germany it was only in the 17th century that citrus fruits increasingly contributed to the table decoration. Augsburg and Nuremberg were famous for the manufacture of silver centerpieces in basket form. By the end of the 18th century centerpieces known as plats ménage appear, providing vinegar, oil and spices for the meal. The crowning center of each centerpiece was a lemon basket filled with fresh fruit.

Often silver or porcelain lemons were also used as jar knobs. In addition, porcelain figures decorated the tables of upper-class parties. Among the best-known rococo figures are the reproductions of Paris street vendors, which, known as the Cris de Paris series, originate around 1744. Here, too, the lemon vendor or 'lemon monger' is to be found.

Orangeries: Conceived Space
From the 16th century on, citruses were transported across the Alps to the North in increasing numbers. In central Europe, the valuable plants developed into important mobile elements of decoration in the French formal garden in summer. To overwinter the sensitive tub plants, bitter orange houses and orangeries, which became a permanent feature of princely palace grounds, were built. Linked to the orangery was the ideal of classical antiquity and of the mythical Garden of the Hesperides where trees bearing golden apples flourish.

Treatises on architecture and gardens, especially between 1650 and 1750, focus on orangery culture and the architectural development of orangeries. The era of great representative works in the 1st half of the 18th century begins with Johann Friedrich Nette and Matthias Diesel and reaches its climax and end with Salomon Kleiner's copperplate prints.

Apart from the etrog, the Adam's apple is another citrus fruit that since the late Middle Ages has been identified as the paradisiacal fruit of the tree of knowledge. In the Ghent Altarpiece, Eve is portrayed for the first time with one such Adam's apple in her hand. Especially in devotional pictures of Mary and the infant Jesus the Adam's apple becomes a frequently used symbol of the overcoming of the Fall by Mary, the new Eve, and Jesus, the new Adam.

The citruses' distinctive feature of simultaneously bearing fragrant white blossoms and fruit made citrus fruits popular attributes of the Virgin Mary. The blossoms symbolize Mary's virginity, the fruit her pure motherhood.

Johann Christoph Volkamer and His Work on the Hesperides
Citrus fruits came into fashion in the Baroque age. Hardly another fruit has since been given as much attention as the evergreen, simultaneously blossoming and fruit-bearing plants on which especially the so-called Hesperides literature focuses. In the early 18th century the Nuremberg merchant Johann Christoph Volkamer created the two-volume standard work on the culture of citrus fruits, still accepted today: “Nürnbergische Hesperiden” (“Nuremberg Hesperides”) and their “Continuation”.

His etchings were created based on his own observations of the fruits that Volkamer raised in great numbers in his Nuremberg garden and received from other garden owners at home and abroad. Each folio combines the life-size rendering of a fruit with a topographical view, which lends the work its unique charm. The first volume shows views of Nuremberg Patricians' and burghers' gardens; the second, the villas of Veneto. (Picture and edited article courtesy of

Friday, May 20, 2011

Violet-A tint of purple

VIOLET is linked both with sobriety and with moderation in general, a symbolism based on the idea that it is midway on the spectrum between the red of passion and the blue of intellectualism. The Roman custom of wearing cooling wreaths of violets at banquets may have influenced this perception. There were Greek precedents, judging by the name given to the quartz gemstone amethyst which literally means “not intoxicated.” Its temperate violet or cool purple hue made it the stone of Catholic bishops. Purple brings to mind wealth and pageantry. Purple and violet are considered luxurious shades because of the great cost in ancient days for cloth dyed with scarce seashells along the Mediterranean seacoasts.
            Violet is also considered a color of humility, one of the virtues. Also, it connotes personality traits such as magisterial, altruistic, noble, personal, artistic, boundless and mystical. Violets sometimes surround paintings of the Virgin Mary and Jesus with these sentiments understood by adoring viewers.
            Graceful and feminine, Violet and lavender have long been favorite flowers and colors worn by genteel ladies. These tints of purple suggest refinement along with grace, elegance, and something special. They hold an almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious. It is the color of femininity, a grown up pink.
            “At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea.” T. S. Elliot describes the sky so well, we are fortunate to see a violet sky near sundown.

            Negative character traits associated with these beautiful colors include merciless, spiritually haughty, self-important, depraved, snobbish and dictatorial.
            PURPLE, especially dark tones found in eggplants, have continued to remain popular for the past several seasons in accent colors for the home. Pittsburgh Paint Company produces one called “Purple Cabbage.” Purple through the ages has designated royalty, Nero even forbade any of his subjects to wear his special color. Females designated purple as their favorite color in a poll. Men named it their least favorite color.
Purple is a color to be used sparingly. It is a “heavy” color, and long exposures to purple may become depressing. Some psychologists think it can reveal deep-rooted depression and even suicidal tendencies in artists. To offset this, the antidote is exposure to gold in lighting, décor or clothes if one wants to literally lighten up.
            Shug’s strong opinion, stated in The Color Purple, I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” She’s right, most of us do notice purple and either love it or hate it.
            Cleopatra stirred up the hatred of the Romans when her lavish purple sails above her royal barge caught their eyes. Such a lavish display of wealth seemed gauche to the Romans, undoubtedly influenced by their jealousy of her wealthy country.

Cultural Symbolism of Colors:
Purple-In Thailand: mourning, widows; in the East: wealth; in the West: royalty and penitence; in astrology: color of Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces; in Chinese Feng Shui: Yin, spiritual awareness, physical and mental healing. It also suggests mystical depth and ancient ritual. Purple elicits strong positive and negative reactions. In dark versions such as eggplant, it conveys formality and dignity.
Violet-a tint of purple, in astrology it represents Virgo and Libra; in psychology it supposedly suppresses appetites, connotes a peaceful environment, and wards off migraines. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fashion Forecast---Color Ahead

During medieval times when only the rich could afford colorful clothes, working folks yearned for more colorful frocks. They would be astonished at people today who wear neutrals such as black, grey, and beige when so many colors are available and affordable in clothes.

I read a wonderful fashion forecast today and you will note my enthusiasm for some changes in the capitalized portions below:

"Khaki is a fabric, but in the fashion world it's also a color, and you're going to see a lot of both this spring and summer. The fabric that was first introduced in 1848 for British colonial troops in India is also now far from the barracks.
Today it's still used for a wide range of military uniforms, but this season we're seeing fun and trendy khaki for people of all ages. Original khaki was a blend of cotton and wool.
It may still be that combination for cold weather, but in warmer months most khaki is 100 percent cotton or a cotton and synthetic blend in a variety of weaves. This year, khaki ranging in shades from sandy to olive drab is used for everything from dresses to skinny cargo pants to shorts of all lengths.
"Khaki never really goes away," says David Wolfe, a New York fashion trend consultant for the Doneger Group. "I think we're seeing a lot of it right now because IT REPRESENTS THE HALFWAY MARK BETWEEN NO COLOR, WHICH IS WHERE WE'VE BEEN FASHION WISE FOR TOO LONG AND THE TSUNAMI OF COLOR THAT IS COMING FAST AND STRONG."
He describes khaki as having more color than tan and "certainly less depressing than that old black that seems never ending."
Many designers, both European and American, have combined khaki and other fabrics - such as gingham or voile - for some of the best spring looks. Another selling point: Khaki is a solid neutral that works well with almost any color - white, navy, black, red and a myriad of prints available this spring. With the versatility and wearability of khaki, don't be surprised if it becomes your warm weather uniform."

I have been told to never use the word KHAKI around English people!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Political Properties of Purple

From the Philippines MANILA STANDARD TODAY newspaper, an article emphasizing the political power of purple:

The Color Purple
The color purple has taken on a new meaning: the struggle for the passage of the reproductive health (RH) bill. Purple is a secondary color from the mixture of the coolest and warmest primary colors, blue and red. “The Color Purple” is also a novel by renowned feminist author Alice Walker. The book was the basis of the equally popular movie with the same title. The novel highlighted the complex women’s oppression due to class, race, and gender. I was young when I saw this movie and was struck at how the color purple was used to the fullest impact in its scenes.
Many are unaware but historically, purple has been the political color of the world’s women’s movements.
In 1908, the suffragettes adopted purple, white and green as its colors symbolizing dignity, purity, and hope respectively. The suffragettes’ struggle for women’s right to vote was most controversial then. In our country, the movement succeeded in April 1937 primarily through actions by women themselves. It’s been said that the women’s mobilizations during the referendum on the issue was the biggest political statement of Filipino women by far. If the suffragettes failed, imagine a Philippines where only men can vote, and run and be elected to office!
The color purple was again picked up by the women’s movements from the 60’s to the present. The right to vote was a crucial victory but women had, and still have to struggle for equality and equity in laws, opportunities, and beyond these, in family and personal relationships. Thus, issues like violence against women, sexuality, and reproductive health and rights surfaced.
Women’s organizations in various parts of the country used the color purple in our advocacies for the passage of laws like: Anti-Rape (R.A. 8353), Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children (R.A. 9262), Anti-Trafficking in Persons (R.A. 9208); and most recently, the Magna Carta of Women (R.A. 9710).
I recall a phase in my feminist activist life when almost everything in my closet was either violet, lavender or purple in varying shades and textures. I would go to meetings and events in everything purple, including accessories and shoes! I was called Ms. Purple and told that I had an emotional affinity with the color. Perhaps I did.
The RH struggle is no different. The various groups, particularly women’s organizations pushing for the passage of the RH bill have been using a lot of purple through the years. We troop to Congress for RH sessions in our trademark purple bandannas and pins. We march on the streets garbed in purple and with similarly-colored flags and banners.
Thus, no other color can represent the RH movement better than purple. The launch of the “Purple Ribbon for RH” was a bigger success than what organizers expected. It was an unprecedented gathering of personalities from various fields like academe, business, governance, arts and entertainment, and media.
 The purple ribbon unites people of all classes, persuasions, ideologies, and religions. Personalities and ordinary masses become one in purpose. Wearing or displaying this is a simple way to tell our legislators that we are pro-RH and we want an RH law. This statement is gaining momentum. In social media, Twitter and Facebook users proudly wear the purple ribbon. Many openly say that they will attend Sunday masses in purple as a political statement. Numerous people are looking for pins, stickers, posters with the purple ribbon on them.
I dare say that we will see a lot more purple ribbons and the color purple in the coming days. We will wear our color as we observe our legislators in the House of Representatives and Senate discuss the RH bill. As starters, be with us on Tuesday, May 17, as the House discusses the bill in the Plenary.
The purple ribbon puts women at the center of the RH debate. As former President Ramos said, RH is primarily a women’s issue and women’s voices should be significantly heard in the discourse.
When you see the purple ribbon, think of the eleven Filipino women, mostly poor who die daily due to preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications.

The purple ribbon is for saving these women.

If you wish to contact Ms. Angiosoco, write her at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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The Royal Color

Dr. Oz highlighted the health benefits of purple vegetables today on his show. These beauties rank high in antioxidants. Purple cauliflower, potatoes and carrots are not the usual produce available at supermarkets, but with the health benefits, perhaps we should request our grocers to carry them. According to Lilian Verner-Bonds, in her book Colour Healing, purple foods promote leadership and heal erratic emotions. She also reveals the characteristics attributed to colors in the purple family:

Deep purple = arrogance, corrupt power, delusion, ruthlessness.
Violet= a rebuilder of hope, intuition, sense of destiny
Amethyst=mystical connections, idealism, protects the vulnerable
Mauve=makes the right choices, aristocratic, dynastic
Plum=old fashioned, pompous, full of false pride, boring
Lavender=perceptive and fragile, elusive, aesthetic
Lilac=a bright personality, vanity, glamor, romance, adolescence

She goes on to say that "purple flowers placed near you when you are working relieves eyestrain. Also, she advises us to use purple sparingly for it is a "heavy" color which, when used in excess, may be depressing. On its positive aspects, she says purple is useful for any kind of internal inflammation and for subduing palpitations of the heart. It is a good color for head problems; it is the chakra color for the brain. The immune system and jangled nerves can benefit from this color. Should you suffer from an overload of purple, the antidote is exposure to gold in the form of gold lighting, decor or clothes."

Just think, King Midas may have been trying to overcome excessive purple exposure while he played with his gold!

From other research and reading, I have concluded that plum/purple/violet have different personalities:

            Plum is sullen and sumptuous, on the dark side, an intriguing combination of red, blue and black, the deepest color in the plant palette. Taking on more red, more blue, even more black, it becomes many shades and tones. Claret, maroon, burgundy, mulberry, puce, all fit into this color group. The word plum seems to encompass all these tones. For the fruits themselves range from the almost black of a sloe or the rich, deep purple of a damson plum to the paler mulberry shades of a Victoria plum. It seems fitting that plum also means first class, treasure, and prize.
            As with red, textiles and fabrics of plum and purple have long been associated with wealth and opulence, empire and papacy. The dyes used to create these gorgeous hues were obtained only with great difficulty and expense. The Cretans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians knew the secret. The dye for the Tyrian purple of antiquity was extracted from the soft tissue of certain shellfish, notably of the genus Murex. 10,000 shells  yielded only one gram of dye.
The purple silk sails of Cleopatra's royal barge certainly impressed Marc Anthony; they were a blatant symbol of her immense wealth. Other Romans envied her power and  plotted to overthrow her so they could rape her country of its riches. Unfortunately, they prevailed against the purple-loving monarch.

Roman emperors alone had the right to wear clothes dyed purple and was associated with supreme power in cultures from Israel to Persia. Ancient texts tell us of its irresistible attraction among the upper echelons of society and of the emperors' relentless refusal to allow others to use it. Nero went so far as to punish offenders with death.

The complex process by which murex shells produce their purple dye has been reconstructed. The coloring molecules are similar to those of the indigo plant. The dyes varied with different types of mollusks. This is noted by Pliny, who remarked that the northern Mediterranean murex gave a different color from that of the south. Dye baths were manipulated to alter color. Sometimes two baths were used, each with a purple from a different source. This was expensive. Later, murex was replaced in the second bath with less expensive kermes (red) and indigo (blue). With the fall of the Roman Empire, much of this technical knowledge was lost.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Color in Silks-Identification with a color


Modern race fans are able to follow a horse's progress during a race through the use of some relatively new inventions:the race program, television monitors, the number on the horse’s saddle cloth and the track announcer's call.
But when horse racing first began in the early 18th century, there were no such things as program numbers, public address systems or closed-circuit television systems. So when King Charles II of England first assembled race meets on the plains of Hempstead, the dukes and the barons had trouble figuring out which horse was which. So, they adopted racing silks - or COLORS - to distinguish their jockeys for easier viewing.
Today, jockey silks are more colorful than when racing was really considered the "Sport of Kings." Photo: Churchill Downs
During the time of King Charles II, the silks were simple -- red for one duke, black for another duke, orange for one earl, white for another earl,* and so on.
The tradition of the silks remains today as jockeys wear the colors of the horse owners, but because there are so many owners, silks have become even more colorful.

Some of the most famous silks are the devil's red and blue of Calumet Farm, worn by the jockeys of Kentucky Derby winners Citation, Whirlaway and Ponder and Allen Paulson's star-spangled red-white-and-blue colors, carried by the champion racehorse Cigar.

The jockeys' room at Churchill Downs houses hundreds of silks which are hung on pegs in the order of each jockey's races for that day. You can see a sampling each racing day by watching the jockeys as they enter the paddock ready to meet their mounts.

Article and photo courtesy of Churchill Downs

*Hierarchy of titles for nobility et al.

PRINCE (son or grandson of a king or queen
DUKE (British nobleman holding the highest hereditary title outside the royal family)
MARQUIS (Nobleman ranking next below a duke)
EARL/COUNT (Called count for a time after the Norman conquest. The wife of an earl or count is a countess)
BARON (A member of the lowest grade of nobility)
BARONET (Ranks below the barons and is made up of commoners, designated by Sir before the name and Baronet, usually abbreviated Bart., after)

Enjoy the races. I might pick the "winners" by their colors! I hear they have added Sapphire Blue to the silks this year and that there will be 19 horses in the race.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May---Artists' Birthdays

Artists’ Birthdays-May

1st Jules Breton, French, 1827
George Inness, American, 1825
Alexandre Antigna, French, 1817
Peggy Bacon, American, 1895
Richard Lippold, American, 1915
Jacob Riis, American, 1849
2ndFrederic Edwin Church, American, 1826
Thomas Dewing, American, 1851
4th Charles Drouet, French, 1836
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, German, 1880
5th Felix Saturnin Brissot de Warville, French, 1818
6th Bacciccio, Italian, 1639
Alphonse Legros, French, 1837
7th Francois Pompon, French, 1855
8th Paul Wunderlich, German, 1927
9th Jean Baptiste Carpeaus, French, 1827
Salvador Dali, Spanish, 1904
Jean Leon Gerome, French, 1824
Alfred Stevens, Belgian, 1823
10th Edward Lear, British, 1812
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British, 1828
Frank Stella, American, 1936
11th Georges Braque, French, 1882
Joseph Stella, American, 1877
12th Thomas Gainsborough, British, 1727
13th Richard Avedon, American 1923
Jasper Johns, American, 1930
Carlo Maratti, Italian, 1625
14th John Sell Cotman, British, 1782
15th Maxime Emile Louis Maufra, French, 1861
16th Stefano della Bella, Italian, 1610
Janet Fish, American, 1938
17th Jacob Jordaens, Flemish, 1593
Gaston Lachaise, French, 1886
Claude Vignon, French, 1593
18th Henri Edmond Cross, French, 1856
Johann Gottfried Schadow, German, 1764
19th Albrecht Durer, German, 1471
Henri Rousseau, French, 1844
20th Mary Cassatt, American, 1844
Marisol, American, 1930
Hubert Robert, French, 1733
21st Franz Kline, American, 1910
Jean Pradier, French, 1790
22nd Georg Raphael Donner, Austrian, 1693
Emmanuel Leutze, German, 1816
Philip Perlstein, American, 1924
Jacopo da Pontormo, Italian, 1494
23rd Will Barnet, American, 1911
Carlo Dolci, Italian, 1616
24th Philippe de Champaigne, French, 1602
25th Giovanni Antonio Guardi, Italian, 1699
Pierre Legros, French, 1629
Paulus Pontius, Flemish, 1603
George Roualt, French, 1871
26thAlexandre Calame, Swiss, 1810
Carl Larsson, Swedish, 1853
27th Edme Bouchardon, French, 1698
28th Alexander Archipenko, Russian, 1887

Biographies of these artists are available at Wikipedia. If you have a simultaneous birthday with any of these artists, it will be fun to research their work. Perhaps you have something in common.

Ready for Red

Red is the attention getter of the color world. In visual psychology, it is an advancing, expansive hue that looks heavier than others. It has the longest wavelength of any color in the spectrum. This, together with its associations with fire, life blood, and energy, makes it symbolically the strongest color.
On the other hand, red is one of the most positive of all colors in worldwide symbolism because of its associations with festivity, vitality and life itself.
It is representative of luck in China, where it became the emblematic color of the Chou dynasty (1045-256 BCE). As the color of blood and life, red is sometimes used with protective symbolism. The red beauty spot worn by some Asian women has this meaning. Some Chinese wedding guests take baskets of red-dyed eggs to the newly married couple to wish them luck in starting their family.
The darkest reds, such as burgundy and maroon connote rich, stately feelings. Red’s positive keywords are stimulating, exciting, energetic, powerful, dramatic, beautiful, passionate, sensual, vigorous, diligent, appreciative and reviving.
Christian theology envisaged nine angelic orders. The ones nearest to God were seraphs, usually painted red. Artists imagined them bearing six wings. In his thunderous warning of the wrath of the Lord to the kingdom of Judah, the prophet Isaiah informs us of the red dye technology of the Holy Land in the eighth century B.C.
                        Though your sins are like scarlet,
                        they shall be as white as snow;
                        though they are red as crimson,
                        they shall be like wool.
Here, these hues, scarlet and crimson, are used in the ancient text to evoke blood.
In the Middle Ages the color was called kermes, from the Sanskrit word kirmidja, “derived from a worm.” The Hebrew name for it was tola’at shani, “worm scarlet.” The red compound is extracted from a wingless scale insect Kermes vermili that dwells on the Scarlet Oak in the Near East, Spain, southern France, and southern Italy. The dye is extracted by crushing the resin-encrusted kermes insects and boiling them in lye. Kermes is the linguistic root of the English crimson and carmine and the French cramoisie.
Cochineal, (Coccus Cacti) an insect native to Mexico and Central America, was imported to Spain by the conquerors. For centuries, the secret was kept under threat of death for anyone revealing the source, as the Spanish profited from the vivid colored textiles this insect allowed. Finally, the British defeat of the Spanish Armada enabled Queen Elizabeth’s navy to carry home the prized cargo captured from the Spanish. It took the invention of the microscope to assure scientists that Cochineal were insects, not seeds. Cochinealwere imported to Texas for the purpose of controlling the over supply of prickly pear cacti. A similar program was very successful in Australia. It takes about 70,000 tiny insects to make up a pound, but a cupful will dye a pound of wool. Fresh insects make the brightest color.
            Dactylopius coccus is a scale insect, from which the cochineal dye is derived. D. coccus itself is native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico. This type of insect, a primarily sessile parasite, lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on moisture and nutrients in the cactus sap. The insect produces carminic acid, which deters predation by other insects. The carminic acid can be extracted from the insect's body and eggs to make the red dye.
Cochineal is primarily used as a red food coloring and in cosmetics. The cochineal dye was used by the Aztec and Maya peoples of Central and North America. Produced almost exclusively in Oaxaca, Mexico by indigenous producers, cochineal became Mexico's second most valued export after silver. The dyestuff was used throughout Europe, and was so highly valued that its price was regularly quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges.
Today, the highest production of cochineal is by Peru, the Canary Islands and Chile. Current health concerns over artificial food additives have renewed the popularity of cochineal dyes, and the increased demand is making cultivation of the insect an attractive opportunity in other regions, such as in Mexico, where cochineal production had declined again due to the scale insect having numerous natural enemies.
            Negative red connotations are brutal, lecherous, prejudiced, harsh, bullying, obstinate and dishonorable. It is the color of blood, which is associated with the emotions and is, therefore, symbolic of both love and hate.
To the Chinese, “Red eye disease” is their description of an envious person’s malady. Red, the color of sovereign power among the Romans has a similar meaning in the dress of Catholic cardinals. Red was used as a symbol for martyrdom during the Roman persecutions.

Red’s Color Properties

            “Red spells passion, power and pizzazz. Clear is the message, unmistakable the impact. Red is stop lights, fire engines, blood. Everyone understands exactly what to expect from red; it attracts attention, it creates drama. Simply looking at this color stimulates the body into an adrenalin rush, in preparation for danger. Physiological studies indicate that red lighting leads to a rise in blood pressure, body temperature and rate of breathing. Little wonder that red is considered a hot color since it really does create heat. Saturated red has the longest wavelength of any color in the spectrum visible too humans, and invisible infrared waves, next to visible red, actually are heat waves.
            Unrestrained and vital, red is always a stimulating visual pleasure. Many people are as timid about using red as they are about using orange and caution is often advocated. Red need not be fire-engine scarlet, harsh or glaring; red can be moody or voluptuous, as sensuous as silk velvet. Red is altogether too lively and energetic to be treated as the rebel or outsider in color schemes. Those who genuinely shy away from its dynamism might first try using it as an accent and gradually learn to love it.
            Red has always been associated with position, importance and riches. The red button on the hat of a mandarin of the first class, or the red hat of a Catholic cardinal indicates their importance.
In his desire for this significant color, man once went to extraordinary lengths to obtain it and such were the difficulties involved that it was always expensive. One important book about the pursuit of cochineal dyestuff is The Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield. She weaves a fascinating story of how empires rose and fell because of this color.
In the search for this beautiful color, many things were tried. One source was the bodies of dried cochineal insects, another was the dried roots of plants like madder, a third, dyewoods like brazil-wood. The insects had to be gathered, the plants cultivated and harvested, the trees felled and chopped before the lengthy process of preparing the dye could even begin.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the development of aniline dyes based on coal tar brought red within everyone’s reach. Many expressions and color names remain as echoes of its natural origins. Another insect, Kermes vermilio, the source of the most ancient recorded dyes, gave its name to carmine, crimson and vermilion, and red tape derives from the tape used to bind legal documents together, formerly colored with a dye obtained from safflower.
According to W. B. Yeats in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, ‘Red is the color of magic in every country. The caps of fairies and musicians are well-nigh always red.” Red, warm and exciting, has certainly long been associated in interiors with entertainment or theatre. Walls draped in red damask, red velvet curtains, the red light of the brothel, all captured the dramatic.
The British National Trust range of paints, based on original colors from early properties, includes Picture Room Red, Eating Room Red, and Book Room Red, indicating the wide ranging domestic use of this color over the centuries.”

The quote above is from Nori and Sandra Pope’s gorgeous book Color in the Garden

COLORS: The Story of Dyes and Pigments - 

The Etymology of Red

A color as expensive and precious as red has dozens of shades and tones, each with its own name.
Auburn: red-brown; from the Latin alburnus; in the 15th century, a whitish brown color; later, by association, a red-brown.
Brazil: red; probably from the Spanish brasa, glowing coals; the color obtained from the dyewood of the same name.
Burgundy: wine red; named for the wine from the Burgundy region of France.
Carmine: a deep crimson; related to crimson, from kermes, from the Arabic qirmizi.
Carnelian: burnt-orange red; from the Latin carn-flesh; originally a chalcedony stone with a deep red or flesh color.
Cerise: a bright red with purplish tones; from the French word for cherry.
Cinnabar: a warm red; red mercuric sulfide dye (the same material as vermillion); from the Greek kinnabari, from an older Oriental word.
Coquelicot: poppy red; from the French word for poppy.
Cresol: a brownish red; from the chemical name for coal tar, from which the aniline dye is made.
Crimson: a deep red tending toward purple; from the medieval Latin carmesinus or kermesinus, a red dye made from kermes; kermes derives from the Arabic qirmizi, red dye…
See pages 46-147 for the complete list

A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield 

Inspired by Red
by Barbara Boothe Loyd

This attention-getter of the artists’ palette,
an advancing, expansive color with the
longest wavelength of the color spectrum,
it connotes blood universally.

Ages ago the Greeks linked it with their
war god Ares’ power and strength.
Today, they dye Easter eggs this
hue to symbolize eternal life.

Picture Poinsettias’ ablaze against mud-brick
houses along the roads in Mexico.
The contrast of this vibrant color
And neutrals kindles our eyes.

Teeka powder enlivens the
faces and hair of
Nepalese brides, as their
Female attendants powder
Them in joy, symbolizing
The rosy future wished for.