The Search for Silent Colors

The Search for Silent Colors

We all know garishly loud colors when we see them. Typically in the range of red, orange, and yellow, loud colors are unwelcome in business attire, unless one's business happens to be the circus. And we all know quiet colors by their instant calming effect. The quiet range of blue, green, and violet is beloved by home designers. But what of silent colors? If they exist, would we find them in cloistered monasteries, or hushed libraries, or ruined castles?

The American ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson found a "sea of silent colors" when he tearfully witnessed the grandeur of the Grand Canyon for the first time. He reported a vivid array of silent reds, yellows, grays, and lavenders (Wild America, 1997).
grand canyon colors
img by davidanthonyporter

The poet A. F. Moritz found silent colors within the curves of a white seashell. He described a "diminished spectrum" of "shades of milk" ("You, Whoever You Are," Early Poems, 1983). The naturalist Timothy Duane found "the silent colours of winter" blanketing the Sierra mountain chain (Shaping the Sierra, 2000).

When feminist activist Ginny Foat found herself incarcerated, she discovered silent grays, blacks, and greens in the steel and cinder blocks of her cell (Never Guilty, Never Free, 1985).

The COLOURlovers library offers a beautiful spectrum of silent colors.

Do any of these colors "speak" to you?
Silent Silent ColourSilent Cries Silent PurpleSilently silent

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Geisha: Colors of the Flower and Willow World

Geisha: Colors of the Flower and Willow World

Few cultures are more renowned for their stunning use of color than Japan's maiko, more commonly known as apprentice geisha in the western world. However, the icons of the geisha culture are rich with meaning, and the colors used within it are no exception. Each careful detail of the maiko's appearance is intended to invoke specific emotion in the people who come into contact with her. They accomplish this goal most effectively, which is why these mysterious women continue to fascinate foreigners and native Japanese alike even today.

A maiko's hairstyle is one of the symbols most commonly recognized by Americans. There are several styles that geisha wear, but many agree the most striking of these is the Wareshinobu, also known as the "split peach." The style is characterized by kanoko, strips of red ribbon that are woven through the bun on the crown of the head. While it is not confirmed that the meaning is correct, it has been suggested that the red fabric implies the shape of the female sexual organs. The Japanese find this highly erotic, as maiko were traditionally virgins until their mizuage, which was a ceremony in which they sold their virginity in a bidding war. This ceremony is now considered antiquated and no longer takes place in Japan.
img by Rob Gruhl

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Happy Blue Year: 2008 Color Trends

Happy Blue Year: 2008 Color Trends

According to color supplier Pantone®, the color of 2008 is Blue Iris. The blue is a radiant, calming hue, dark, but not dark enough to be in the realm of navy, and is a sharp contrast to the 2007 choice, Chili Pepper Red.

"From a color forecasting perspective, we have chosen PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris as the color of the year, as it best represents color direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast."

18-3943 Blue Iris P-tone of the Years

Pantone has chosen some form of blue for Color of the Year in 2000, 2003, and 2005. Now, Blue Iris is it in 2008.

Is Blue The New Green?

Other professionals disagree with Pantone’s choice. Margaret Walsh, director of the Color Association, says her color of 2008 is bamboo. She believes the strong green, hinted with yellow, represents the changing social desire to be more environmentally clean.

“My color for 2008 is bamboo.” A yellowed green, chosen from the association’s interior palette, she said, it “represents the stable green that is most on people’s minds.” She said it’s similar to a hue called Vineyard, adding: “I feel it just has a power. You know, these are very insecure times.”
Pantone's Color of the Year Is...

img by nelanah

Some Bamboo Color Inspiration
Bamboo Cocktail Fresh Bamboo

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How to Create Sublime Colours

How to Create Sublime Colours

What colour is so awe-inspiring, so out-of-this-world that it elevates viewers to new heights of wonderment? The quest for the sublime colour is as old as pigment and likely older still. Imagine the first humans to witness a majestic sunrise. They'd have had a transcendental experience, in that sublime colours open a window into a realm of grandeur beyond mere human experience. Imagine the first artists experimenting with dyes like alchemists in search of the Philosopher's Stone, driven to discover the secret of sublime colour and to possess the power to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Sublime colours are commonly described as being:

  • incomparably beautiful
  • exquisite
  • cheerful
  • timeless
  • soft
  • active
  • natural (sunrise, clouds, rainbows, mountains, or sea, for example)
  • radiant
  • sentimental
  • magnificent
  • glorious
  • lofty, divine (in that they foster a spiritual experience)
  • shimmering

Ultraviolet and deep indigo are often called sublime, and black more so. Colour expert Benjamin Jan Kouwer notes that Western culture once hailed yellow as a sublime colour with a favorable symbolic meaning (Colors and Their Character, 1949). Colour mixers usually discover sublime beauty by accident, but art teacher Gabriel Boray suggests that artists can hone their sense of the sublime through careful practice.

Boray developed a system for sublime colour mixing. Through his system, colourists learn to feel when a colour is "singing." Boray instructs the colourist to begin with two complementary colours of the same temperature (such as a warm yellow and a warm ultramarine). "Mix 5 variations between them, from yellow-green to blue-green, paying careful attention to separating them enough to be recognized as a unique variation." By adding a tiny amount of blue into the yellow, then a bit more, and more again, each variation will be distinct. "After you have 5 clear color variations between those two, create one in between each (there may be many more than one), until you have 10 variations. Now look at those colors. Are they clean and unique? They should be singing. If they aren't singing, you are to immediately find the correct light to see the variations properly, or rush outside, close your eyes, and take 10 deep breaths while telling yourself you are a master of color! If the colors exist—and an infinite amount of colors exist—then you can identify them."

Boray assures that "When you open your eyes you will see nature as you may never have before. Return to your exercise, choose two more colors and continue. Combine as many pairs of colors, creating 5, then 10, or more variations. Gradually you will begin to feel the changes in your blood. Go outside again and look at something in nature. Make a ring with your thumb and forefinger and look as if through a magnifying glass. See the infinite variations. The same colors you see are available to you for painting. There is no barrier between your mind and your brush."

Some sublime colour inspiration from the COLOURlovers library:

sublime Sublime Red

Sublime Pink Sublime whisper

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COPASO : Color Palette Software

COPASO : Color Palette Software

We've been working on an advanced / pro color palette tool for quite some time and finally have it ready enough to share with you. We're still fine tuning and adding more updates... but we feel like this is the best color palette tool you'll find... if you don't think so, let us know what you'd like us to add or improve and we'll keep striving to give you the best experience anywhere.

Try COPASO : Color Palette Software Now

Click Here for a Larger Video Demo (Narrated and presented by Andrew Sorcini)

COPASO is an advanced color palette tool that helps you create the perfect color schemes and themes. With a scratch pad to save colors you're working with, a photo tool to extract colors and an advanced color picker and color theory wheel to give you tons of color inspiration. Using COPASO you can save your palettes to a private folder or download them to keep on your local computer. When you're ready, click publish and share your color palette with thousands of other color enthusiasts. If you're finding COPASO a bit too rich you're your color creating tastes, you can always use our basic color palette tool.

Custom Color Widths... Base, Secondary and Accent


With COPASO you can give each color a specific amount of space in your color palettes. This will help you show what colors you intend to be the base colors, secondary and accent colors. Click and drag the <|> icons above the color squares to change their widths.



Save Colors to Your Scratch Pad


You can save a color you're working with by clicking and dragging it down to the scratch area. To set a main color above with one of the colors in your scratch, simply double-click the color in your scratch.



Get Color Inspiration from Pictures


Advanced Color Picker and Color Wheel

The new advanced color picker in COPASO allows for even more precise color selection. You have hue, saturation and brightness sliders as well as input areas for Hex, RGB, HSV and CMYK color values.

Also built into the advanced color picker are gradient step filters that will allow you to see any color with steps towards white or with steps towards black. To work with any of the colors in this filter, simply click and drag the filter color strip to the right of the color wheel onto your scratch area.

Below the picker is our color wheel and color formula filters. By selecting one of the formula filters (Blend, Complementary, Triadic Tetradic or Split Complementary) the color wheel will allow you to spin the selected color around by clicking anywhere on the wheel. Once you've found some great colors in the preview bar on the right, all you need to do is drag the bar to your scratch area to begin using those colors.

Double-clicking any of the color squares in the preview bar will update the main color picker to that color and give you a new perspective on your selected color filters.


As mentioned above, we're very proud of COPASO and hope you'll find it very useful for all your professional and hobby color projects. COPASO couldn't have been built without the expert programming of Chris Williams and the design work of Stephen Hallgren. Last but not least the hundreds of thousands of COLOURlovers who have helped us build and grow our color community and who've provided us with great advice, suggestions and inspiration over the years.

Happy COLOURloving!

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Color Inspiration: Sushi

Color Inspiration: Sushi

Food seems a popular source of color inspiration here at COLOURlovers and one of my favorites types of food is sushi.

So while searching for other COLOURlovers who might also be sushi lovers, I was pleasantly surprised to be in good company after stumbling across subsomatic’s all-you-can-eat-sushi post. And, after a quick keyword: sushi search, I discovered 130+ palettes inspired by sushi!

Raw Fish?

OK, for some, the words raw and fish hardly sound appetizing but fresh raw fish is served in many ways and in many different countries and cultures. Carpaccio, ceviche, poke, tartare, gravlax are just a few.

But, sushi is not raw fish. In Japan, sliced fresh raw fish served alone is called sashimi. Also, sushi can be sushi with fish — cooked or uncooked — or without fish. What makes sushi different from sashimi is the sushi rice (rice with vinegar or shari). Since sushi is created in a variety of ways depending on the combination of ingredients, sliced fresh raw fish prepared with sushi rice is just one variation of this culinary art form.

Red Snapper sashimi
img by ulterior epicure

Fast Food Origins

While often perceived as designer food especially when dolled up and served in upscale establishments, sushi as it is known today, originates from the streets of Tokyo. It all started with one man with a simple stall:

Yohei Hanaya, was the first person to shape vinegared rice with his hands and then crown it with a slice of raw fish - prompted, it's said, by impatient customers, who couldn't be bothered to wait for the traditional pressing in a box.

(Source: The Observer Food Monthly)

Apparently his creativity became all the rage simply because of convenience. It was the finger food 1820’s Tokyo. And, even then because of the lack of refrigeration, debate continues about how much of Mr. Hanaya’s sushi fish was actually served raw.

Global Variation on a Theme

Nigiri sushi hasn’t changed much in the last couple of centuries and still remains one of the more popular types of sushi perhaps only second to maki sushi.

For those not familiar with the difference, here’s a quick rundown (with photos) of some of the more common types of sushi:

Nigiri sushi: Prepared with a small mound of sushi rice formed by the hands into an oval shape with a topping such as sliced fish. A small amount of wasabi is placed between the sushi rice and topping. Sometimes it is wrapped with thin band of nori, a type of seaweed.
Plate of Nigri Sushi
img by kenyai

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Interview with Richard Sarson - Graphic Artist

Interview with Richard Sarson - Graphic Artist

Richard Sarson  

Richard Sarson
Location: London, UK
Originally hails from: Midlands, UK
Education: BA '04 and MA '06 from the Royal College of Art

I stumbled upon Richard Sarson’s work via Circa1979 and was immediately entranced. His work is hypnotic and intriguing in its complexity created with simple materials and forms. Richard was kind enough to share a bit of his methodology, inspirations, and admit a small fear of colour.

CL: Please tell us a bit about your background:

Sarson: I am a graphic artist living in London. I create work across the fields of art and design and by doing so attempt to question established methods of production and ways of thinking.

CL: How did you find your way into design?

Sarson: I have always enjoyed drawing and I think I was set on an art-based path right from the start. My interest in design has evolved due to a combination of an obsessional personality and a love for composition in art.

Richard Sarson’s “Secret”

CL: Most creative people tend to cringe or joke about math and science. Your work seems heavily influenced or constructed upon it. What is your take on the relationship between science and art?

Sarson: Often they are seen as opposites, scientific order versus artistic chaos, to me they are very similar in the sense that they are both composed of loose-ends and bits that don't add up. Science and art both have an imposing authority to them but really they are just someone thinking 'what happens if I do that?'. How the microwave was invented is not really that far in spirit from Marcel Duchamp putting a bicycle wheel on a stool and in the process questioning the whole idea of art. I tend to work in scientific way, often I will spend time on a drawing as an experiment simply to see what it will look like, sometimes it is a good outcome other times not so good, then I move on. I like to work on newsprint and use cheap materials because there is no precious, art-like quality about it, each one is an experiment that doesn't really have an end point.


CL: Circles have made a frequent appearance in your work. Why circles?

Sarson: I think the simplicity of a circle is beautiful. I don't intentionally focus upon that shape. My drawings are more about the points where the compass sits; I work in a structured way so the framework is usually the thing most visible. There is also something really lovely about drawing a line and finding yourself right back where you started.

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Pantone Colors Found in the Real Life

Pantone Colors Found in the Real Life

When it comes to Pantone + COLOURlovers, you could say we both love color... but I think of them more as the parents from the 50s who live long happy lives together but sleep in separate beds... as we might be more of the free-lovin hippies of the 60s... not that there is anything wrong with that. All kidding aside Pantone does a pretty crazy job of allowing people to translate colors across industries. If you want the yellow of your website, to match the yellow of your car's paint to the yellow of your favorite yellow speedos... they've created color software and specifications to make sure you always get the perfect hue.

Thanks to Tina at SwissMiss I found a wonderful photo of leaves matches to their pantone colors and sought out to find more photos of people comparing colors in their real lives to their pantone cousins.

Chris Glass is a creative guy who takes lots of fun photos... one I particularly love is one he took back in Oct. that showcases the range of colors a single tree can produce as the seasons change.

"I’m obsessing over all the maples that are turning slowly this season–their tops red, fading to green. So much that I felt compelled to collect samples from a single tree."

img by chrisglass
First Changes Fully Fall

Pantone Matching Photoset by RIVET sf

Linked from Chris' page was a Pantone Matching Photoset with lots of fun office color finds.

img by mdsf_gone_wild

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Blonde Pony Tails: The Human-Horse Connection

Blonde Pony Tails: The Human-Horse Connection

Humans have been fascinated by white horses for millennia. Geneticists have now pinpointed the "genetic architecture" that connects blonde manes in people and equines. The study of white horses goes all the way back to ancient Rome, where depigmented horses were identified as "candidus" (white) or "glaucus" (gray). The PLoS Genetics journal notes that two thousand years ago, the white horse was held sacred by the Saxons. It served as an augur for the German tribes, its behavior considered a sign of divine approval or disapproval. The white horse was so revered that it featured on the flags of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Even earlier, white horses were celebrated by the Celts in Great Britain. The White Horse of Uffington (Oxfordshire, England) is Bronze Age hillside artefact, dating back approximately 3,000 years. The figure of a 374-foot long horse (perhaps representing the Celtic horse goddess Epona) was cut into the soil, its white coat naturally pigmented by the chalk beneath the turf.

cwalker71.jpgimg by cwalker71.

The PLoS Genetics journal points out that most white horses carry a "graying-with-age mutation." They are born with a solid-coloured coat which turns white by age of four to six. However, occasionally a pony is born with a solid white coat. Take, for example, the solid white mare named Cigale, born in 1957 out of solid brown parents from the Swiss Franches-Montagnes Horse population. Geneticists have studied all of Cigale's white-born descendants and isolated an inherited mutation in their pigment forming cells. Different horse populations, such as white Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Camarillo White Horses, reveal independent pigmentation mutation events. In other words, the white horses in each equine family exhibit their own special brand of mutation leading to their white coats. But the common chromosomal factor appears to be what geneticists call the KIT gene, responsible not only for white horses but also for blonde people.White horses appear in the religious literature of many lands. Here's a small sampling:

  • In the New Testament's Book of Revelation, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse rides a white horse.
  • In Japan, the white horse is a Shinto symbol of purity and divine authority.
  • In Islam, the Prophet ascended to heaven on the back of a white horse.
  • In Hinduism, the god Kalki rides a white horse while brandishing a comet-like sword.
  • In Nordic lore, the god Odin rises a white horse named Sleipnir.
  • In Greek mythology, the white and winged Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa when Perseus decapitated her.

Here is some blonde ponytail inspiration from the COLOURlovers library:White Horse White Horseswhite horse sign PeaceOf White Horsesplatinum blonde golden the pony boyWhite horses ponytail.smoked white hair Ride A White Horsehorsey Sixth White HorseCover img by superdove.

Craig ConleyAbout the Guest Author, Craig ConleyWebsite: http://www.OneLetterWords.comCraig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow
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New Year’s Colors: The Korean Hanbok

New Year’s Colors: The Korean Hanbok

Whether celebrated January 1st or the Lunar New Year (February 7, 2008), New Year’s Day (seol nal ) ranks high in Korean culture. It’s a celebratory family affair with the exchange of gifts (usually money), games, lots of food, wishes of fortune, and blessings.

It is also one of the special occasions when Koreans dress in the hanbok, the traditional Korean dress and pay respect to their elders (sehbe) with a deep bow and the greeting, “seheh boke mahnee pahdtu sae yoh”.

Korean dolls dressed in hanbok
img by bebouchard

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