Color Inspiration: Women of Easy Virtue in Art

Color Inspiration: Women of Easy Virtue in Art

This is a guest post by speakin_colors. You can read the original post here.

It would be wrong to think that only respectable women inspired artists throughout history. The decadent and oppressive reality of prostitutes and brothels has lent its colours to writers, painters and musicians who used them as a source of inspiration for their works.


The obscure world of harlotry inspired the great English painter William Hogarth. In the series of paintings known as A Harlot's Progress (later published as engravings) he depicts the miserable fate of a country girl who began a prostitution career in town from its starting point to its tragic end: the whore's death of venereal disease and the following merciless funeral ceremony. The sequel of the series, A Rake's Progress, shows in eight pictures the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant, who wastes all his money on luxurious living, whoring, and gambling, and ultimately finishes his life in Bedlam.


Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh is said to have had an unrequited love story (which later became an obsession) with a French prostitute, to whom he sent his dismembered ear.

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Christmas Color Legends

Christmas Color Legends

This is a guest post by Speakin_Colors.

The Robin Redbreast

Among the many animals associated with Christmas, there is one which features extensively on cards, wrapping paper, cake decorations and crackers: the Robin Redbreast. The robin appears in many Christmas motifs even though it is extremely rare to see a robin at Christmastime since it is not precisely a winter animal. So why is it so popular? The answer lies in its red breast:


”The robin has become strongly associated with Christmas, taking a starring role on many a Christmas card since the mid-19th century. The Robin has also appeared on many Christmas postage stamps. An old British folk tale seeks to explain the Robin's distinctive breast. Legend has it that when Jesus was dying on the cross, the Robin, then simply brown in colour, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort him in his pain. The blood from his wounds stained the Robin's breast, and thereafter all Robins got the mark of Christ's blood upon them. An alternate legend has it that its breast was scorched fetching water for souls in Purgatory. The association with Christmas, however, more probably arises from the fact that postmen in Victorian Britain wore red uniforms and were nicknamed "Robin"; the Robin featured on the Christmas card is an emblem of the postman delivering the card”. - wikipedia

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Christmas Decor: 6 Non-traditional & Colourful Options

Christmas Decor: 6 Non-traditional & Colourful Options

This is a guest post by Speakin_colors.

The magic of the Christmas season is reflected in the warmth of the family gatherings and the strong impact of tradition. More and more people, however, are growing increasingly tired of the conventional customary Christmas decor. The following ideas offer original variants while retaining the Christmas spirit:

The minimalist option

Both simplicity and functionality are highlighted in the minimalist tendency. A metal fruit holder filled just with nuts and placed on a table made of glass and metal can achieve the perfect minimalist festive atmosphere. White lillies, gardenias and white orchids floating in a crystal vase, red and green crystal wine glasses and red and white ceramic spheres on a red tablecloth complement this option in which unpretentiousness is the key element.

Viri G

The natural option

Nature acquires a predominant presence by using natural elements: glamorous apples decorated with red ribbons hanging from the Christmas tree, centrepieces full of dried flowers and fruits, ornaments having unexpected colours (turquoise, lime green, fuchsia, kiwi green, ocean blue and watermelon pink), sea-inspired designs and starfish of different sizes instead of traditional baubles…

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The Colors Of Gothic Brides

The Colors Of Gothic Brides

This is a guest post written by speakin_colors.
A wide variety of styles fall under the term gothic. A gothic wedding dress may be similar to a Renaissance dress, or it may be closer to the dark style of the underworld look of vampires and witches. It could also include some typical Celtic elements adapted to the gothic fashion, with rich fabrics and a variety of deep colours. Other designs could include a skin-tight black or red dress with a Victorian neckline or a plunging or lock-lace bodice, a goth corset with black ribbon detail, a long flowing skirt with lace or a webbed black hose.

Click on the image for the link.

Medieval Wedding Dresses
Gothic themed dresses may also incorporate the look of the Medieval ages. Though some Medieval dresses are in white, darker colours can be chosen for a darker and more dramatic design while still retaining the rich materials and delicate trims that are often featured in Medieval dresses. Typical distinguishing characteristics of the Medieval dresses are puff-sleeves and ruffled necklines.

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The Color of Wedding Dresses: Yesterday & Today

The Color of Wedding Dresses: Yesterday & Today

This is a guest post written by speakin_colors.

A Bit of History
The traditional white wedding dress symbolizes purity and chastity, two virtues a woman about to get married was supposed to have in the past. The bridal custom of wearing white started in the XVI century but it was given a boost when Queen Victoria decided to wear a white wedding gown instead of the silver dress royal brides used to wear at that time. Another monarch, Mary Queen of Scots, had worn white before when she married François II of France. However, her choice did not become popular then since white was the official colour of mourning in France at the time. It is believed Mary had chosen white since she was very fond of that colour and her white wedding dress surely must have highlighted her bright auburn hair and her hazel-brown eyes.

Prior to the Victorian era, a bride was married in any colour except black (the colour of mourning) or red (which was connected with prostitutes).

In the XIX century, women began to choose dark colours instead of light ones to get married. The choice was based purely on economic reasons since dark-coloured wedding gowns could be worn again on other social occasions.

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Colorful Ideas For St Valentine’s Day

Colorful Ideas For St Valentine’s Day

This is a guest post written by speakin_colors to help us all come up with some colorful ideas to share with our loved one this Valentine's day.

Historically speaking, Valentine was a Roman priest martyred under the emperor Claudius. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with Julia, a blind young girl who was the daughter of his jailer. One day, due to the miracle of love, Julia recovered her eyesight. The day Valentine was executed, on February 14th 270, he sent a setter to her beloved which romantically read “From your Valentine”, a phrase which was going to be popularized in the course of time.

Romantic Ideas for Valentine’s Day

The surprise element is the key to revive passion and to spend an unforgettable day. Common traditional gifts are valentine cards, flowers and chocolate. Roses, for example, come in a wide range of colours but it must be remembered each different colour has a different meaning. Colour definitely sends a silent, yet extremely important message, from the sender to receiver. So, before selecting roses for someone the following chart (from The Gardener’s Network) should be consulted to make sure the right message is conveyed!

Photo by teachastrid

Meanings of Rose Colors

  • Red: Love, beauty, courage and respect
  • White: Purity and innocence, silence or secrecy, also reverence and humility
  • Pink: Appreciation,"Thank you", grace, perfect happiness, and admiration
  • Dark Pink: Appreciation, gratitude
  • Light Pink: Admiration, sympathy
  • Yellow: Joy, gladness, friendship, delight, the promise of a new beginning
  • Orange: Desire, and enthusiasm
  • Red & White: Given together, these signify unity.
  • Red Rosebud: A symbol of purity and loveliness
  • White Rosebud: Symbolic of girlhood
  • Thornless Rose: Signifies "Love at first sight".
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The Colors of Christmas: 'White Christmas'

The Colors of Christmas: 'White Christmas'

Why does everyone dream of a white Christmas?

Dickens popularized the idea that the ideal Christmas should be white, and since then snowy landscapes have inspired all types of products related to Christmas (from postcards to cookie tins). The fact is that the first eight Christmas days that Dickens spent in the early years of his childhood were celebrated in snowy weather. Recalling his white Christmas holidays, Dickens wrote his famous story A Christmas Carol published in December1843. A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale which tells the story of an old and bitter miser called Scrooge who realizes that, if he doesn't change his ways, he will end up like his friend and business partner Jacob Marley, walking the Earth forever as a lonely ghost. The book rapidly became a bestseller and those who read it noticed people’s feelings changed due to the magic transformation exercised by Christmas. Thanks to the impact of Dickens's book, human beings began to show more tender feelings and to behave in a more compassionate way towards others during the Christmas season.

Photo by photos_martha

Exactly a century after Dickens wrote his famous tale, Hollywood released a movie starring Bing Cosby and Fred Astaire called Holiday Inn, whose song White Christmas won an Academy Award. The song’s notable success was due to the fact that it was released during the Second World War at a time when the Christmas spirit urged for world peace. In 1954 Hollywood produced a remake called White Christmas in which Cosby again sang his famous song. During the 20th century, however, there were only two snowy Christmas days in England in 1938 and 1970.

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The Colors of Christmas: Why Santa Wears Red

The Colors of Christmas: Why Santa Wears Red

Why does Santa wear red?

Believe it or not, present-day Santa owes his red robe not to an ancient legend or to an early myth but to the Coca Cola Company.

A long time ago Father Christmas was shown in clothes of different colours: green, purple, light-blue, navy blue, brown or red. Some illustrations even depict him as a multicolour figure wearing blue trousers, a yellow waistcoat and a red jacket. In some cases he even wore brown, black or white furs.

Image compiled from

On his head he used to have a mistletoe crown, a hat, a nightcap, a bishop’s mitre or a hood. Other versions showed him holding a glass of wine or smoking a clay pipe. As he was believed to go down the chimney of houses on Christmas Eve, soot stained his clothes.

Everything changed around 1930. Coca-Cola decided to use the image of Santa Claus in its winter advertising campaign and took on an American artist called Haddon Sundblom. Sundblom chose the official Cocal Cola colours -red and white- and designed a loose tunic fastened by a tight black belt. When Sundblom’s campaign was over, Santa’s image in a red robe had become popular all over the world.

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Cultural Issues On Color & Sex

Cultural Issues On Color & Sex

Long before human beings engage in sexual activity, colour begins to play its part in defining sexual roles.

Sexism starts in the cradle when baby girls are dressed in pink and boys, in blue. Colour is, in fact, the only feature that marks gender differences for a year or so.

Photos from JeongMee Yoon's Pink & Blue Project

Maidenhood is traditionally associated with the ideas of virginity and purity conveyed by the color white. Even today white is the colour most women prefer for their wedding dresses. Testing a woman's chastity before marriage also seems to be a matter of colour for some cultures. Gypsy newly-wed couples, for example, must spend their wedding night on a bed having white sheets. Before going to bed the woman has to put on a white petticoat and she is deprived of any element (hairpins, earrings, rings) that could eventually hurt her and cause her to bleed. After the marriage has been consummated, the bloodstains on the petticoat undergo a close examination. The stains are rubbed with alcohol or some whisky and if they can’t easily be removed the woman was truly a virgin!

Talking about women, the crude term red sails in the sunset is used to refer to menstruation and a pinkie cheater is a latex glove used during a gynecological examination.

Illustration by nir mazliah

Now talking about males, a man who gets self-satisfaction by looking at a pornographic magazine is said to color the coloring book, and the jocular expression blue balls refers to intense male sexual frustration.

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Color, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll

Color, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll

There are a lot of slang colour names related to drugs, which are also widely used by rock musicians. Let's take a look:

Purple: This colour refers to LSD. The name of the band Deep Purple makes an obvious reference to California Sunshine, another name given to LSD. (Sunshine is, by the way, one of Aerosmith's major hits) Prince wrote Purple Rain and Jimi Hendrix was talking about "hard stuff" when he wrote Purple Haze!


Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin funny, but I don't know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze all around
Don't know if I'm comin up or down
Am I happy or in misery?

I cant go on like this
Purple haze You"re makin me blow my mind...mamabr>Purple haze, n-no, nooo
Purple haze, no, its painful, baby

Brown: It is mainly associated with grainy LSD, which is called "sugar". The Rolling Stones sang about it in Brown Sugar ("Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good")
brown_sugar brown_sugar

White: The colour of the drug cocaine. Singer Ricky Martin talks about it in the song Maria:

Asi is maria,
White like the day
But it is poison,
If you are enamoured

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