It all started on a visit to the Louvre Museum many years ago.
Enthralled by the paintings, I was told paints were not invented at that time (it didn’t really occur to me, I was just admiring the paintings), and was told that the paints were made from things found in nature, by crushing flowers, leaves, and barks of trees.
This really fascinated me, especially since the paintings looked so realistic, the different gradations of colours, skintones, shadows, the dimensionality that was created.
I just kept thinking:”How did they do it? It’s so amazing!”
This blog post is really overdue.
I found a book on natural sources of colour when I started my image consultancy in 2005. Since then, I had watched on The Amazing Race, how people in India pelt large amounts of coloured powder at one another during the Holi festival. In fact, this year’s Holi festival, was celebrated in India and around the world just 2 weeks ago. In my research, I found out that some people use natural and not synthetic coloured powder for Holi.
I think you’ll find the following facts to be fascinating–I found them in the book Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay:
Ultramarine Blue is made from Lapis Lazuli, a semi-precious stone
Red is the pigment from an insect–the cochineal beetle
Yellow is created from dyeing items in Saffron, although Tumeric and even the heart of the Jackfruit has been used to dye the Yellow robes of monks in Tibet and Thailand, respectively
Green is from Buckthorn Trees
Violet is made from a pigment drawn from sea snails
We think of the sources of colour for our everyday products and we think of a tube of paint, or powdered dye. Technology has certainly helped in making synthetic colours, making every conceivable colour available to all of us, for use in so many different ways. But it’s still wonderful to think about how people are still using age-old methods of harvesting and using colour from natural sources.