(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘color

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most”*…


 click here for larger version

For Lapham’s Quarterly‘s fashion issue, designer Haisam Hussein reinvents the color wheel to show where various shades of colors were invented—from Int’l Klein Blue (Paris) to Scheele’s Green (Sweden), Turmeric (India), and Mauve (London).

Alongside the graphic itself are the origin stories for each color, which, as we’ve seen before, can be less than appetizing. White Lead, for instance, was created in Japan circa the year 700 by exposing lead sheets to vinegar and fermenting horse manure—then used by the elite class as face powder. Tyrian purple is derived from the secretions of sea snails, and Orchil (Florence) dye is made from dried and ground lichen that is activated with ammonia, such as that from urine.


Explore here.

And on a related note: “Pantone: How the world authority on color became a pop culture icon.”

* John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice


As we tackle tints, we might spare a thought for Alexander Calder; he died on this date in 1976.  A sculptor known for monumental stationary works called stabiles, he is also considered the father of the mobile (a type of moving sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that respond to touch or air currents).



Written by LW

November 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“‘Tis not alone my inky cloak… Nor customary suits of solemn black”*…


Michelangelo Merisi
da Caravaggio used ivory black to convey asceticism, piety, and inspiration in his 1605-6 painting, St Jerome Writing.

Suddenly, black was everywhere. It caked the flesh of miners and ironworkers; it streaked the walls and windows of industrial towns; it thickened the smoky air above. Proprietors donned black clothing to indicate their status and respectability. New black dyes and pigments created in factories and chemical laboratories entered painters’ studios, enabling a new expression for the new themes of the industrial age: factory work and revolt, technology and warfare, urbanity and pollution, and a rejection of the old status quo. A new class of citizen, later to be dubbed the “proletariat,” began to appear in illustrations under darkened smokestacks. The industrial revolution had found its color.

Black is technically an absence: the visual experience of a lack of light. A perfect black dye absorbs all of the light that impinges on it, leaving nothing behind. This ideal is remarkably difficult to manufacture. The industrialization of the 18th and 19th centuries made it easier, providing chemists and paint-makers with a growing palette of black—and altering the subjects that the color would come to represent. “These things are intimately connected,” says science writer Philip Ball, author of Bright Earth: The Invention of Color. The reinvention of black, in other words, went far beyond the color…

As the means of producing the color black changed, so did the subjects that it was used to evoke/represent. Get the basics at “The Reinvention of Black.”

* Shakespeare, Hamlet


As we paint it black, we might we might retreat to the colorful, remembering that it was on this date in 1969 that “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” opened in the Catskills in New York State.  The organizers of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair– or Woodstock, as it is remembered– had hoped to sell 50,000 tickets; but by the week before the event, had moved 186,000.  A last-minute change of venue presented them with a hard choice: hastily erect more/stronger fences and install additional security on the new site (the now-famous Yasgur’s Farm) or offer the event for free.  The night before the event, with attendees already arriving in huge numbers, the promoters cut the fence.  Ultimately an estimated 400,000 people enjoyed a (somewhat rainy) weekend of performances from 32 acts.  It was, as Rolling Stone opined, a defining moment in Rock and Roll.


Written by LW

August 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Each color lives by its mysterious life”*…


Inka Mathew, of Green Ink Studio, has a passion project, Tiny PMS Match

A personal project of tiny proportion—matching small everyday objects to their Pantone® colors… All pictures were taken with her iPhone 5 and edited with Snapseed.

Many, many more at Tiny PMS Match.

* Wassily Kandinsky


As we sift through shades, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that Graceland opened to the public.  Built in 1939, Graceland was the mansion that was home to Elvis Presley from 1957 until his death in 1977.  It was declared a national landmark in 2006, and is the third most-visited private home in the U.S. (behind the White House and Biltmore House in Asheville).



Written by LW

June 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

Arctic blue? That’s so yesterday…

Color Forecast relies on high-speed digital cameras placed in strategic fashion centers in Paris, Milan, and Antwerp to capture data 24/7 on what the cognescenti are wearing… that data is fed into a piece of color-tracking software written by Pedro Miguel Cruz… then played back in the form depicted above– all to help one avoid appearing in public in a passe pastel.  In the end, it’s a shill for a clothing chain called Pimkie…  still, it’s all about au courant.

[TotH to Wired]


As we celebrate contemporaneity, we might send beautiful birthday greetings to English fashion model April Ashley; remembered for her spreads in fashion bibles like Vogue (as photographed by the likes of David Bailey)– and for being the first British person publicly outed as a transsexual– she was born (Tony Jamieson) on this date in 1935, and joined the Merchant Marine at 14.  By the 50s, she’d moved to Paris and become a successful drag performer; then in 1960, she visited Morocco to have reassignment surgery.  On returning to London later that year, Ashley took up modeling, and was an immediate success… which lasted until she was outed by the Sunday People in 1961.  During her brief stint in the limelight, April won a part in the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Hong Kong; her credit was dropped after her history was made public.

In 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognised as a female and issued with a new birth certificate.


Written by LW

April 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

Color me _____ …

Feeling  _____?  About to head out for a night on the town in _____?  Then dress in _____!

From Zoho:Lab, an interactive version of (R)D favorite David McCandless’ “Colours of Cultures“…

click the image above, or here, for full-screen interactive version

And for a grid version, click here.

As we reorganize our sock drawers, we might recall that on this date in 1896 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that color mattered in a different kind of way: it ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional on intrastate railroads.  For half a century thereafter, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation in the U.S., across which laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools.  While the Court’s majority opinion denied that legalized segregation connoted inferiority, a dissenting opinion from Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that segregation in public facilities smacked of servitude and abridged the principle of equality under the law.

At a Rome, Georgia bus station, 1949 (source)

The color of money…


The increasingly rapacious and reactionary corporate attitude to intellectual property rights has been the subject of several posts over at Scenarios and Strategy (c.f., e.g., “Patently Absurd…,”Caution! Pile up ahead…,” or “I was aiming for my foot, but I seem to have shot myself in the thigh…“)

Now an update for readers who might feel the urge to deliver a present in just any light  blue box, or who might fancy a certain shade of orange…  Tiffany Blue and Home Depot Orange are trademark-protected– “colormarked”– hues.

Qualitex Press Pad

It all started in 1989.  Qualitex used the unique color blend illustrated above for their dry cleaning presses.  But then competitor Jacobson began using the same shade, allegedly to more easily confuse companies into buying their product instead. Qualitex sued, won– and colormarking was born.

Readers will find a list of 10 privately-owned colors at Mental Floss‘ “10 Trademarked Colors.”


As we discard a number of our crayons, just to be on the safe side, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that the extraordinary Canadian athlete Arnie Boldt jumped 6′ 8.25″ at the Tribune Games outside of Winnipeg, breaking his own record for long jump in disabled competition.  Boldt, who’d lost his right leg in a grain auger accident at the age of three, burst onto the parasports scene at the 1976 Paralympics, where he took gold and set records in both the long and the high jumps.  He raised his high jump record at the next Paralympics in 1980, then raised both records in 1981.

Arnie Boldt in the long jump (source: Canadian Sports Hall of Fame)


Ready… Set… Glow!…

Readers who have pending fashion purchases will be relieved to know that Pantone (“the world-renowned authority on color”) has announced the The Color of the Year for 2011: Honeysuckle (PANTONE 18-2120). “A vibrant, energetic hue,” it sounds like just what the doctor ordered…

While the 2010 color of the year, PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.”

Eiseman continues, “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.”

And not a moment too soon.

As we realize that this means a wholesale replacement of our accessories, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that Carl Perkins recorded his rockabilly classic “Blue Suede Shoes” at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio.  Released at the start of 1956, the single was a hit, and was ultimately covered by a number of other acts–  most famously, by Elvis Presley.

The B-side, also written by Perkins, wasn’t too shabby either: “Honey Don’t” was covered by at least 20 other acts, including The Beatles.




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