Excerpt by Melinda Ashton Turner via her blog The Colour Field
Colour is a funny thing. On one hand it appears ubiquitous, even mundane, and the other a unique, individually crafted, piece of history. We rarely consider it as the historic relic it is. It may sometimes occur naturally and that’s how we think of it. Although what we experience as colour is a product of man’s imagination.
It’s something we completely take for granted. We are so used to being surrounded by colour, from the lurid pink of neon to the deep indigo of jeans that we don’t see the invisible hand that created this sensation.
This feature isn’t meant to be comprehensive or explain the whole spectrum. All colours are equal, however, some colours are more equal than others- to paraphrase another quote.
On a slightly different note, many birds can see colours we can’t; a visual equivalent to the high pitched sounds dogs hear which we don’t. The extra colour vision does have a definite purpose. To be able to fly over water, see a fish, swoop down, and make it lunch demands that you be able to distinguish between fractional differences in colour. Being existential about it, that suggests the world we see isn’t exactly as we think it is.
Photography by Grant Turner
Black’s just black, right? Maybe, if you didn’t have Lamp Black, Carbon Black, Vine Black and Bone Black.
Carbon black goes back to pre history. Basically it’s made from burnt wood or plant material. Carbon is the most basic form of mark making and artists from cave painters to contemporaries have used carbon black, ranging from it’s basic form or a modern manufactured version. Carbon Black has great covering properties and is used in photocopiers still use carbon in black toner cartridges to create the image on paper.
Bone Black: Nothing too clever here, or even unrelated to Carbon Black. Bone Black is made from charring bones. Like Carbon Black it has great covering ability and was used in a significant way by Egyptian, Greek and Roman artists. Used in pre-historic paintings and right through to Rembrandt. He often used it in his portraits, specifically for black clothing, this enabled the subject to be prominent even on a dark background. A good example of this would be Rembrandt’s portrait of Aechje Claesdr.
Bone Black’s close relation is Ivory Black which was originally made from grinding charred ivory in oil.
Chinese Ink/Indian Ink: Another form of black that was traded from India but with it’s origins in China. This colour has a rich depth that was extensively used in China for calligraphy and ink paintings and dates back to Neolithic China.
Chinese Ink is made from soot and gelatin. The soot was originally made from burning pine with later versions using oil. The use of gelatin or animal glue as a mixing agent enabled the ink to set sold. After allowing it to set in a bowl, or as ink sticks, it could be used with a wet brush to write or paint.
The Tang dynasty considered colours vulgar and artworks were often made just using black and grey variations. A whole range of greys could be made by added different amounts water to the ink and combined with different weights of stroke a whole tonal range could be achieved.
Read Melinda’s description of Red, White and Blue at her blog, thecolourfield.net