Vampiric Colors

Vampiric Colors


"Color?" said the vampire. "Is that all? Color iss eazy-peazy. How soon do you vant it?"—Terry Pratchett, The Truth, 2001 Black silk, white incisors, blood-red lips, pallid complexions, deep purple velvet.

Truly, "the horror of vampirism is expressed in color" (Diane Negra, The Irish in Us, 2006).

The timeless lore of vampires has left a colorful and enduring mark on world culture. If you think most vampires sport Transylvanian accents and Carpathian fashions, think again. Chinese vampires (Geung-Si), for example, have a rich history of their own. Their limbs stiffened by rigor mortis, Chinese vampires move by hopping, their arms outstretched like zombies to seize their prey. They have long fangs and even longer fingernails, which they use to stab their victims and suck out the life energy. They wear traditional Manchu robes of black silk and round black hats from the Qing dynasty. What turns a corpse into a Chinese vampire? A lingering lust for revenge, an improper burial, a violent death, or a mischievous spirit. Chinese vampires can be stopped only by Taoist priests armed with magic talismans. The priest paints red calligraphy onto a yellow strip of parchment and slaps the talisman onto the vampire's ghastly white forehead, rendering him immobile. Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin has a tip for making very dark vampire colors less extreme and severe. He recommends surrounding the vampire color with taupe or brownish-gray (Jessica Pallingston, Lipstick, 1999).

Because vampires are allergic to sunlight, vampiric colors often evoke the shades of midnight:

Vampire's midnight dracula's comingMidnight Scream dance of the vampireMoscow Vampire vampire bloodvampire vampires in love.

Photo by LOKAOTICO

As vampires are sustained by blood, it comes as no surprise that there are a great many sanguinary colors:

Vampire Wound vampireVampiress Kiss Vampire

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Colorful Allusions vol. 15

Colorful Allusions vol. 15


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.

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Down the long road into Statesville, he walked toward a realm of gold, sunset had turned all the world to gold.
 
And next morning, he was on the great road again, walking into sunrise gold. The sun came up behind him like a big red full moon, a red that was full of yellow, a red orange warm gold that absorbed all the pinks and pale reds of the morning.

—Julian Lee Rayford, Cottonmouth, 1941.

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Big diamonds, big blue diamonds, how they sparkle / But what can they do to warm your soul? / When you’re lonesome in the moonlight, and need some lovin / Big diamonds, big blue diamonds, are so cold.

—Earl J. Carson, "Big Blue Diamonds," first recorded by Little Willie John in 1962.

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Colorful Allusions vol. 14

Colorful Allusions vol. 14


Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour.  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.

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Photo by zen♫♪

My street, under the greenish gas at this hour, is a morass of toffee- like, creamy mud coffee- coloured, maroon and caramel yellow a sort of crumbling, slushy trifle in which the floating bits of meringue are lumps of concrete.

—Collette, The Vagabond; translated by Enid McLeod, 1955.

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Dawn, and the little flocks of silver- enameled tanks on every hill and the fifty- five thousand barrel tanks in the valley made you think of diamonds in a dime- store brooch so much wealth in such an outlandish place.
 
The purple ribbons of oil splashed down every hill and turned brown and gold in the sun. Up the valley the lights on the drilling rig winked out.

—Jim Thompson, Character at Iraan, 1930; Fireworks: The Lost Writings of Jim Thompson, 1988.

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Colorful Allusions vol. 13

Colorful Allusions vol. 13


Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour.  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.

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Photo by nuanc

There is a red carnation in that vase. A single flower as we sat here waiting, but now a seven- sided flower, many- petalled, red, puce, purple- shaded, stiff with silver- tinted leaves a whole flower to which every eye brings its own contribution.

—Virginia Woolf, The Waves, 1931.

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Photo by DylanT1

More and more as I grow older I see the beautiful dream of life expanding till it is much more important than gray life itself a dark, red dream the color of the cockatoo.

—Jack Kerouac, Journal, July 4, 1949; quoted by John Leland in Why Kerouac Matters, 2007.

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Spectral Colors Of Brocken Bows And Glories

Spectral Colors Of Brocken Bows And Glories


Imagine hiking on a sunny mountain and witnessing an unforgettable phenomenon worthy of a Hollywood special effects team: as a bank of chilly fog rises from a couloir, your shadow grows to gigantic proportion (hundreds of feet high), surrounded by a prismatic halo.

Brocken Bow
Brocken Spectre

In olden times, the spectre was considered to be of supernatural origin and fearfully ominous in nature.  Today, the phenomenon is known as a "Brocken Bow," named after a mountain in Germany.  Like a small, circular rainbow, a foggy Brocken Bow tends to last from several seconds to fifteen minutes.  Bands of color surround the gigantic shadow at a distance of several feet.  The outermost band is red, and the others follow the order of the typical rainbow.  In some cases, a Brocken Bow is surrounded by a second bow, whose color order is reversed.  A similar phenomenon, known as a Glory, is distinguished by the fact that the bands of color touch the head of the shadow.  Glories typically sport seven bands of color and can last for hours at a time.  Sometimes Glories are surrounded by glowing white fog bows.

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Colorful Allusions vol. 12

Colorful Allusions vol. 12


Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour.  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.

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Photo by elvissa

Some folks say that once in a while you’ll find a coral snake in there, he glistening magic in his yellow and vermillion stripes, lying there near your foot like a thing bewitched, the fatal spell of his fangs in his wonderful color: cute thing, pretty little yellow and vermillion snake. Those rattlers in the swamps are of wonderful coloration: white, black, yellow, orange, red, blue, in great diamonds. Not like desert rattlers, dry, dusty in color, but moist in color, refulgent in color.

—Julian Lee Rayford, Cottonmouth, 1941.

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Photo by -Lori-

I sit on a purple bed, / Outside, the wall is red, / Thereby the apple hangs, / And the wasp, caught by the fangs, . . .
 
Gold wings across the sea! / Moonlight from tree to tree, / Sweet hair laid on my knee, / O, sweet knight, come to me!

—William Morris, "Golden Wings," 1858.

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Minimalist Colors

Minimalist Colors


All colors tend to white,
the fiercer the intensity of light
—Marcel Minnaert

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by Greencolander

Did you hear the one about the minimalist who bought a coloring book but deliberately overlooked the crayons?  Visual artists who subscribe to the Minimalism philosophy seek to simplify things down to what's necessary.  Since the white page of a coloring book reflects all colors, is a crayon truly necessary?  Inspired by COLOURlovers, I created the Minimalist Coloring Book, a meditation on the spectrum contained within white.  As the book features images of white things printed on white paper, it invites us to expand our eye for subtlety.  For, indeed, there is a rainbow of whites at play within the dendrites of a snowflake, the ruffles of a flag, the tufts of a polar bear, or the plumage of a seagull (to name but a few examples).

Following is a random sampling of images and quotations from the Minimalist Coloring Book, accompanied by subtle palettes from the COLOURlovers library.

Seagull A Flock of Seagulls

A wintry seagull hung white as a winter leaf above the surface of the waves.
—Achmat Dangor, Waiting for Leila (1981)

Polar Bears Polar Bear

The polar bear will make a rug
Almost as white as snow:
But if he gets you in his hug,
He rarely lets you go.
—E.V. Lucas, A Book of Verses for Children (1970)

Flag of Truce white flag

A few more years and there will be nothing but the white of our empty chairs around a table, white as the white flag of our shared surrender.
—Marie Claire Blais, These Festive Nights (translated by Sheila Fischman, 1997)

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Colorful Allusions vol. 11

Colorful Allusions vol. 11


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.

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Big gray [moths] with reddish markings, pale blue- green, yellow with lavender, and red and yellow."
 
"What do you mean by 'red and yellow?'" asked the Bird Woman so quickly that the girl almost jumped.
 
"Not exactly red," explained Elnora, with tremulous voice. "A re
t="this.style.color='#840300'" onClick="window.open('http://www.colourlovers.com/color/840300/','_blank','')" title="840300 / dark reddish">d
dish, yellowish brown, with canary- coloured spots and gray lines on their wings."

—Gene Stratton-Porter, A Girl of the Limberlost, 1909.

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img by vk-red

As by a fascination, every eye was now directed to the glaring greenish- grey eye of Simon.

—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852.

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All The Colors Of The Wind

All The Colors Of The Wind


The air.  A thing too intangible for color you think? ... The truth is all air is colored.
—John C. Van Dyke, The Desert

Anyone who thinks that air is invisible is impaired by a sort of color blindness.  Indeed, the air is so alive with color that it could be likened to a rainbow that encircles the entire earth with pink, red, violet, gray, blue, and yellow.  Ask a naturalist or a painter, and you'll hear descriptions of an airy spectrum that escapes the unobservant viewer.  Carried by swirling dust particles and refracted by the prisms of water vapor, the colors of the air are best observed in a mass.  Mountaintop vantages, canyons, desert expanses, or deep valley views are recommended.  The warmer the temperature and the stronger the wind, the more color will be detectable.  Rising heat carries finer dust particles deepening the air's hues, while high winds carry larger particles, brightening the coloration.1

Here's how naturalist Richard Jefferies poetically recorded seeing the colors of the wind at sunrise one morning:

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Photo by James Jordan.

Color comes up in the wind; the thin mist disappears, drunk up in the grass and trees, and the air is full of blue behind the vapor.  Blue sky at the far hoiizon — rich deep blue overhead — a dark-brown blue deep yonder in the gorge among the trees.  I feel a sense of blue color as I face the strong breeze; the vibration and blow of its force answer to that hue, the sound of the swinging branches and the rush — rush in the grass is azure in its note ; it is wind-blue, not the night-blue, or heaven-blue, a color of air.  To see the color of the air, it needs great space like this — a vastness of concavity and hollow — an equal caldron of valley and plain under, to the dome of the sky over, for no vessel of earth and sky is too large for the air-color to fill.  Thirty, forty, and more miles of eye-sweep, and beyond that the limitless expanse over the sea — the thought of the eye knows no butt, shooting on with stellar penetration into the unknown. In a small space there seems a vacuum, and nothing between you and the hedge opposite, or even across the valley; in a great space the void is filled, and the wind touches the sight like a thing tangible.  The air becomes itself a cloud, and is colored — recognized as a thing suspended; something real exists between you and the horizon.  Now, full of sun and now of shade, the air-cloud rests in the expanse.2

The COLOURlovers library is full of airy inspiration.  There are colors of "thin" to "heavy" atmospheres as well as airless colors of suffocation.

NOTES:
[1] John C. Van Dyke, The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances, 1903.
[2] Richard Jefferies, "Winds of Heaven," The Eclectic Magazine, 1886.

 
A sampling of thin air colors:

Air air

airy_aries Airy

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Colorful Allusions vol. 10

Colorful Allusions vol. 10


Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour.  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.

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Photo by arlo_bates

He woke up the next day with a feeling of incomprehensible excitement. The April morning was bright and windy and the wooden street pavements had a violet sheen; above the street near Palace Arch an enormous red- blue- white flag swelled elastically, the sky showing through it in three different tints: mauve, indigo and pale blue.
 
—Vladimir Nabokov, The Defense, 1964.

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Photo by jurvetson

The gauges sizzled with blue light. Long sparks crackled along the wall. Somewhere a red light blinked, like a silent, threatening eye, and a vial behind Joachim's back was filled with a green glow. Then everything calmed down; the spectacle of lights vanished.
 
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, translated by John E. Woods. Mann is describing the workings of a primitive X-ray machine.

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