The Colors of Carnival: Venice

The Colors of Carnival: Venice

This is part of a series about colors from the 2008 Carnival season. Today we are featuring colors from the incredibly dramatic, ornately crafted and intricately designed costumes and masks of Carnival Venice

The colors of the Carnival festival season have been brightening up the streets of cities across the world since Pre-Christian times. While the celebration may not have always included eclectic parades filled with dynamic floats and street performers, Carnival has become a global celebration that extends beyond its religious roots crossing cultural and political divides.

Carnival Venice

Photo by Alaskan Dude

The carnival in Venice was first recorded in 1268. The subversive nature of the festival is reflected in the many laws created over the centuries in Italy attempting to restrict celebrations and often banning the wearing of masks.

Photo by Alaskan Dude

Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen's Day, December 26) at the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. As masks were also allowed during Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Mask makers (mascareri) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.

Venetian Masks

Photo by Alaskan Dude

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Hayao Miyazaki: A Master of Color and Magic

Hayao Miyazaki: A Master of Color and Magic

If you've never seen a Hayao Miyazaki film, I can honestly tell you that you are missing a truly amazing experience that reaches vastly beyond the general formula of film making. Miyazaki has the same power to refresh the magic of childhood that Disney had down pat during their prime (and some would argue, still have.) Whereas Disney films seem to have lost some of that luster, Miyazaki has displayed work that not only shimmered with the brilliance of gorgeous color, sound and storytelling, but is delivered with such a humble hand that as viewers we are never once reminded of the heart of the film until we are ready to hold it close to us. This is what makes Miyazaki a master.

Hayao Miyazaki founded his own animation studio, Studio Ghibli, in 1985 after working with Toei Animation in his early career as an in-between artist. Miyazaki was the second of four brothers, raised by a highly literate mother who tended to question societal norms. She later suffered from spinal tuberculosis and the family often moved, which a reflection of can be seen in Miyazaki's perennial children's classic, My Neighbor Totoro.


From an early point in Miyazaki's career, his films shared the theme of environmentalism and rarely featured one-track characterizations. The first introduction of the former was in his 1984 film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, in which he tells the story of Nausicaa, princess of the peaceful Valley of the Wind. The adventure focuses on Nausicaa's humane approach to the chaos happening in the world around her and brings up humanistic and ecological concerns rarely seen in animation at the time of its release. The film was well received in Japan, selling nearly a million tickets and landing Miyazaki squarely on the map of the Japanese awareness.


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Everyone is Irish (And Green) on March 17th

Everyone is Irish (And Green) on March 17th

Green is a well loved color when it comes to attention during the holidays. It is the accent to the red and white candy canes during Christmas... the color hidden under the cover of a witches hat on Halloween... but no holiday lets green shine in the spotlight like St. Patrick's Day.

Photo by K2D2vaca

Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide on March 17th by Irish people and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent (usually in Australia, North America, and Ireland), hence the phrase, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.” Celebrations are generally themed around all things green and Irish; both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink, and attending parades.

Saint Patrick's Holiday History

Photo by Flipped Out

Saint Patrick's Day, colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (385–461), one of the patron saints of Ireland, on March 17, the day on which Saint Patrick died. The day is the national holiday of the Irish people. It is a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland, and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the rest of Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.

St. Patrick's Blue?

Although Saint Patrick's Day has the color green as its theme, one little known fact is that blue was once the color associated with this day.

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Colorful Allusions vol. 8

Colorful Allusions vol. 8

Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant color.  In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes.  Try to guess the exact hue of each.  Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words.  Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue.  Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.


Yellow and black, pink and snow white, shapes of all these colours, men, women and children were spotted for a second upon the horizon, and then, seeing the breadth of yellow that lay upon the grass, they wavered and sought shade beneath the trees, dissolving like drops of water in the yellow and green atmosphere, staining it faintly with red and blue.
—Virginia Woolf, Kew Gardens.


Come back, my scarlet ladybird, / Back from far away; / I weary of my dolly wife, / My wife that cannot play.
She’s such a senseless wooden thing / She stares the livelong day; / Her wig of gold is stiff and cold / And cannot change to grey.
—Christina Rossetti, "I caught a little ladybird." From The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse, edited by Tom Paulin, 1988.

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Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 3

Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 3

Seemingly incomprehensible color names often tell intriguing and funny stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."

The dark gray color called fsck refers to a Linux system administration command and is also the title of an album of experimental electronic music by the band Farmers Manual.


The bright pink color called fzzk recalls the sound of “flash panties,” a weapon disguised as underwear, as in the comic book Dirty Pair: Run From The Future #3 by Adam Warren.


The light purple color called ggg echoes the gulping of a noisy drinker, as described in “More Than Words” by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.


The light green color called gggg refers to a baby’s giggle, as described in the novel Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser.


The gray color called gnch refers to the sound of someone gorging on a giant mushroom, as in the graphic novel Uzumaki 2 by Junji Ito.

photo by sahmeepee
img by sahmeepee

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Color Shades of the Unexpected

Color Shades of the Unexpected

What makes a color "unexpected" is a difference from the norm or a breaking of the rules. Consider, for example, a fiery red nimbus cloud amongst common white ones, an impatient yellow blossom amongst green buds, or an anomalous brown nut amongst its candy-covered companions. A mismatched color can jolt the viewer into a new way of looking. It can offer:

  • a rhythm to the palette
  • a lively surprise
  • a sense of depth or substance
  • a punchy contrast
  • a delightful idiosyncrasy
  • an inspirational boost
  • a festive mood
  • unexpected warmth
  • a "not too serious" tone
  • a fun nuance
  • a reason to smile
Little Red Angel
img by jpmatth


An anomalous pile of blue sticks next to an orange-leafed tree in an autumnal glade served as the inspiration for the "Stick Figures" palette.

Stick FiguresStick Figures
img by ISphoto


A green and red cactus in a Kingman, Arizona parking lot served as the inspiration for the "Cactus Erroneous" palette.

Cactus ErroneousCactus Erroneous
img by cobalt123


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Artists of Light and Color: Finch, Rahm & Yuskavage.

Artists of Light and Color: Finch, Rahm & Yuskavage.

A few months ago I visited MASS Moca, a modern art museum in a converted factory in the Northern Berkshires. The space itself is worth a visit with its exposed brick walls, high ceilings, huge windows, and industrial feel.

Spencer Finch

My favorite work was by Brooklyn artist Spencer Finch. Finch explores how people perceive lights effect on an object’s color, the boundaries of the human field of vision, and the influence of language, memory, and the subconscious.

His works re-creates specific light conditions experienced at a different place and time. Above are photos I took of two Spencer Finch installations, “Sunlight In An Empty Room (Passing Cloud For Emily Dickinson, 2004)" and “Candlelight (2007)" at Mass Moca.

Philip Rahm & Lisa Yuskavage

I love how color and light can impact all they touch, be it skin, grass, water etc. To see artists that are artificially capturing and portraying these effects is so thrilling. My husband and I went to Paris for our honeymoon on a whim last summer. We planned to be in Italy but it was sweltering so we hopped a train to beautiful, colorful Paris (hence my obsession with macarons and previous post on this blog).

Philip Rahm

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Pearl Colors: A Rainbow Beyond White

Pearl Colors: A Rainbow Beyond White

Pearls come in more colors than one can count. Part of the allure of owning pearls is that each one is unique. Like people, pearls are never clones (not yet at least) and their color is one of their most striking qualities. Because of the natural material, each pearl must be expertly matched underneath fluorescent lights in order to find a pair.

Sometimes a pearl's color changes when you spin the pearl. One side of the pearl may be copper and the other green. These pearls are generally thought to be lower in value and are hard to come across unless you are looking through a substantial lot of loose pearls.

Pearl Fun Facts

Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June and it is generally accepted as the wedding anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years or marriage. The pearl has been a symbol of sacred power and the goddess of love for hundreds of years. In the ancient Mediterranean world, shells and pearls were often symbols for the great goddesses. As the pearl is born from the oyster so was Aphrodite born from a marine conch.

Tahitian Pearls


"Rainbow" Iridescence

Rainbow Iridescence pearls
The best example of the possibility in pearl color is captured in the baroque shape. Baroque implies that the pearls are not completely round and are generally either drop shaped or circled. Because of the more freeform shape, these pearls capture rainbows of color. The colors dance and change according to the lighting. One of the traditional metaphors to describe such iridescence, (called "orient"), is to think of gasoline on pavement. What makes baroque shaped pearls even more colorful is that their body color is not always one color. Below is a photo of some loose Tahitian pearls. You can see from the following examples the multitude of colors.
- Tahitian Pearls by PearlParadise


Red pearls
Though there are no bright red pearls, there is a shade of Tahitian pearl called "Cherry," which is truly vamp. These pearls have a ruby tinge to their darker body color. These pearls can be as red as a dark sienna if the body color is also red, or the red can be lighter with a silver body color. Sometimes green is the dominant body color of the pearl and the red is an overtone. These pearls look red at the center with an outline of green beneath. They are rare and hard to find on for sale.

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The Colors of Carnival: Brazil

The Colors of Carnival: Brazil

This is part of a series about colors from the 2008 Carnival season. Today we are featuring colors from the location home to the largest and most elaborate celebration, Brazil.

The colors of the Carnival festival season have been brightening up the streets of cities across the world, maybe since Pre-Christian times. While the celebrations may not have always included eclectic parades filled with dynamic floats and street performers, Carnival has become a global celebration that extends beyond its religious roots crossing cultural and political divides.

Brazilian Carnival

The Brazilian Carnival (Portuguese: Carnaval) is an annual festival in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat. The carnival, celebrated as a profane event and believed to have its origins in the pagan Saturnalia, can thus be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.

Brazilian Carnival as a whole exhibits some differences with its counterparts in Europe and other parts of the world, and within Brazil it has distinct regional manifestations.Brazilian citizens used to riot until the Carnival was accepted by the government as an expression of culture. That was because the Brazilian carnival had its origin in a Portuguese festivity called "entrudo".
--Wikipedia: Brazilian_Carnival

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Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food

Confectionery Colors: Creating Art With Food

Two artists are taking some of our favorite colorful treats and turning them into a new medium for their artistic expression.

Liz Hickok has taken each flavor of America's favorite gelatin desert and molded it into colorful models of San Francisco and Scottsdale. Since JELL-O isn't the most durable of materials, as part of the project she has two videos that capture these wonderfully sculpted cityscapes. You can see them here and here.

Working with gummy bears, Yaya Chou has created some of the most fascinating sculptures, the best being, of course, a bear skin rug.

San Francisco In Jell-O

This project consists of photographs and video, which depict various San Francisco landscapes. I make the landscapes by constructing scale models of the architectural elements which I use to make molds. I then cast the buildings in Jell-O. Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains.

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