Monday, November 29, 2010

Interesting Color Names

I was looking through my colored pencil stock this morning and was struck, and not for the first time, by some of the unusual color names we regularly see in our artist's palettes. Some of these names are so ubiquitous as to be ordinary-sounding to us, even though they are pretty obscure words used to describe a color.

For example, take the word “Phthalo.” That initial “Ph” is so strange! It took me forever to learn to spell it correctly. Some other strange-sounding color names are “Geranium Lake,” (I get the "Geranium" but what’s the deal with the "Lake?"), and “Permanent Green.” (Why is it more permanent than other greens?) I’ve always been fascinated by the word “Fuchsia” but have no idea what is means or where it comes from. (I have had Fuchsia plants before but which came first the plant or the color?)

I’m sure there are easy-to-find answers to these questions but that’s not really the point. The point is that our painting boxes are filled with amazingly, evocative names that we rarely ever notice.

Some interesting color names in my colored pencil collection

My current favorite color names are “Helio-Blue Reddish” and “Chrome Oxide Green Fiery.”  Wow! I'm not sure they make any sense as far as names go but they sure sound good, don't they?

What are some of your favorite color names?

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