Art Quote for the Day

LAKE COLORS

Cinnabar and red lead have an orange tint, and red ocher is dull. The dyers of ancient Egypt enjoyed the richer, darker hue of kermes, but with occasional exceptions such as indigo,dyes are too translucent to serve a paints on wood, stone, or plaster.  The Egyptians knew of a solution to this short-coming, although we cannot tell if  they invented it.  The water-soluable crimson dye is affixed to an inorganic, colorless carrier powder, generating a relatively opaque solid material called a lake pigment.

Lake is now a generic label for any dye-based pigment, but once it pertained to red alone. In the Middle Ages red lake was made not just from the gummy secretion of the kermes insect ( which became known as carmine lake) but from a related resin called lac ( also spelled lak or lack). This encrusts the twiggy branches of trees indigenous to India and southeast Asia and is exuded by the scale insect Laccifer lacca.  The modern lacquer shellac is a processed form of lac resin. Lac was imported to Europe in large quantities from  the early thirteenth century, and as a result it became a blanket term for all red dye-based pigments, including those already in circulation, such as carmine.

Art Quote of the Day

“Red is the boldest of all colors.  It stands for charity and martyrdom, hell, love, youth, fervor, boasting, sin, and atonement. It is the most popular color, particularly with women.  It is the first color of the newly born and the last seen on the deathbed. It is the color for sulfur in alchemy, strength in the Kabbalah, and the Hebrew color of God. Mohammed swore oaths by the “redness of the sky at sunset.”  It symbolizes day to the American Indian, East to the Chippewa, the direction West in Tibet, and Mars ruling Aries and Scorpio in the early zodiac.  It is the color  of Christmas, blood, Irish setters, meat, exit signs, Saint John, Tabasco sauce, rubies, old theater seats and carpets, road flares, zeal, London  buses, hot anvils, (red in metals is represented by iron, the metal of war), strawberry blondes, fezes,  the apocalyptic dragon, cheap whiskey, Virginia creepers,valentines, boxing gloves, the horses of Zechariah, a glowing fire, spots on the planet Jupiter, paprika, bridal torches, a chil’s rubber ball, chorizo, birthmarks, and the cardinals of the Roman Catholic church. Love is red. So is death, its counterpart. It is the color of fire and flame. Upon merely seeing the color red, the metabolic rate of a human being supposedly increase by 13.4%”

The Primary Colors – Alexander Theroux