Thursday, November 12

Name Those Unusual Colors & Add Some To Your Palette!

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You may not have noticed, but I hope you did, that I recently added “puce” to the Artists Factoids section over there on the right-hand side of the blog (yes, -> right over there). I add new terms to the list whenever I run across an art word or term with which I’m not that familiar.

When I was writing about the color, Mars Violet, a few blogs ago, I ran across puce and decided to add it to the list. Anyway, it got me to thinking about the names for some of the other colors with which I’m not all that familiar.

It also reminded me of some of the creative names for colors that online retailers give to the colors of their garments. The names sound like nice paint colors or colors in nature, but, yet, you never really know what the color is. Here are few examples I’m talking about: stone, moss, thistle, seagrass, loden, sapphire, seaport, meadow, and my favorite, chile pepper. Please! Be more specific, so I don’t have to pay for return shipping when I thought I ordered a green shirt, but I receive a blue one (seagrass)!

Anyway, I decided to see if I could find a few other colors that I consider to have unusual or less-than-common names. Here goes:

Sepia Artists may know sepia from photography or printing tones and tints, it's a dark brown-gray and comes from the Greek word for cuttlefish—why, I don’t know.

Fuchsia A pinkish-purple color named after the flower of the fuchsia plant; it’s cousin, electric fuchsia, is often used instead of magenta for some applications.

Cerulean You probably know this blue hue, too, which comes from Latin for heaven or sky and is applied to a range of blues from azure through greenish-blue; the pigment was discovered by Andreas Hopfner in 1805, and chemically is cobalt stannate; George Rowney, of the Daler-Rowney brand of paints, began to sell it in 1860.

Madder Also known as Rose Madder for its rosy tint, it's from the crushed root of the madder plant.

And from a most interesting site, The Phrontistery, is a very complete list of lesser-known colors, a few of which I had heard of:

Amaranth A reddish-rose color named for the flower of the amaranth plant (from Wikipedia).

Aubergine The French and British term for eggplant, it’s the color of eggplant, a very dark purplish-brown (from Wikipedia).

A bright red, tinted with orange used in the vermilion pigment, chemically is mercuric sulfide (from Wiktionary); do not confuse with Cinnabon!

Chartreuse Named because of its resemblance to the green color of one of the French liqueurs, it’s 50 percent green and 50 percent yellow (from

Saffron A deep orange-colored substance consisting of the aromatic pungent dried stigmas of saffron and used to color and flavor foods (from the Greenbelt blogspot).

Sorrel Basically it’s the color of chestnuts and is used to describe the yellowish-red or reddish-brown color of horses (from

And several from Phrontistery, of which I had not:

Aeneous Shining bronze color

Corbeau Blackish green

Eburnean Ivory colored

Ianthine Violet colored

Mazarine Rich blue or reddish blue

Piceous Reddish black

Virid Green as in verdant (you’ve probably heard of Viridian green)

As I often say, there’s always something new to learn in art.


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