Friday, 23 October 2015

The Magic of Colour

An Angel in Byzantine art

Colour is Magic

Today we are surrounded by colour, all the colours of the rainbow and all tints and shades of these colours. Primary colours of red, blue and yellow, as well as secondary colours of purple, green and orange are available to us. 

Artists use these colours with joy. I love making my paintings very bright. Others use pastel colours, and still others delete colour and go for black and white. It saddens me that architectural colours for modern houses are charcoal grey. For decades, the insides of houses have been painted cream, but the current colour in Australia is a grey. I find it so boring and lacking in feeling.

The Beginning of Red, Blue and Purple

About 3000 years ago it was not so easy to get colours. People used natural colours of the earth or those they could get from plants or ground rock. 

Only royalty or the very rich were able to use the colours of red, blue or purple because of the expense and difficulty of making the dyes. 

In the book 'Secrets of the Knights Templar, the hidden history of the world's most powerful order' by SJ Hodge, he explains how these colours were made:

'The dyes used in the veil in the Temple (of Solomon) were red, blue and purple. The red was extracted from the blood of beetles and the blue and purple dyes were extracted from sea snails. The dye is believed to have originally have been produced by the ancient Phoenicians (the Phoenicians were a race who lived at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and who became an important society between 900 and 700BCE)

The red, blue and purple dyes were highly valued and Tyrian purple in particular was prized as it did not fade but grew more intense over time, even if exposed to sunlight. Extracted from the glands of particular sea snails that are found in the eastern Mediterranean, it was extremely costly to produce. This meant that few 'ordinary'
people had seen such colours on fabrics, so when they were used in Solomon's temple they were talked about with wonder, as if they were substances acquired by magic or from God.'

(Tyre was an ancient city in Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast.)

Modern Colours

 We are so lucky today that all colours are readily available to us. Fifty years ago, silver and gold were not readily available in paints or pens. Today the new inks have made pens of silver, gold and copper colours available. They are also readily accessible in acrylic paints. 

Irridescent colours adorn birds and beetles. We can add irridescence to our paintings made with acrylics. Paints, pencils, colour and availablity have changes the artworld so that our children and grandchildren cannot even imagine a time without 





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