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colour study part iii: orange

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

Lonely Orange

I am doing an in-depth look into colour based on the freshness of early Spring, through the hot reds and golden grasses of Summer, Autumn's colours of old age to the neutral tones of Winter. We'll look at natures colour palette and how there are several ways to get from one colour to another, how light and shadow can change a colour, tints, tones and shades and the importance of colour associations and harmonies.

Orange is an intense colour, powerful enough to increase the oxygen supply to the brain and reminds us of the sun, fire and warmth. Sitting on the colour wheel as a secondary colour, between the physical reactions of red and the mental reaction of yellow, orange has emotional strength. It is uplifting, optimistic, hot and regal, from tigers and tangerines to cider and saffron. The contemporary colour of loneliness (with the debate that nothing rhymes with it!), and by-passing the fruit, the colour orange ranges from pale apricot to a rich rust. Looking around the garden, dark

shadows range from burgundy, chocolate brown, bloody-red orange and ochre. In truth ochre is yellow, an ancient colour as discussed in the Colour Study: Yellow and so part of that association is attached to the extremely earthly orange...think of Autumn and orange is prominent. It is an accent colour for Halloween and a midway colour between yellow and brown in leaf pigments.

When referencing the colour wheel using orange, it's complimentary colour (opposite) is blue and its split-complimentary colours (either side of its opposite colour) are the purple and green sides of blue. I will be looking into the colour terminology and wheel on a later posting. I did a colour study when making robins recently and was most surprised that in truth, robins are in fact orange-breasted, so for an accurate robin, its orange and rust colours, not the traditional red!

Orange is a very regal colour with a few countries holding reverence to it. India, where the orange fruit originates, commemorates this with a slash of orange in it's national flag. The colour is also a representation of saffron, (which is also the spice used to dye monks robes), along with the strength and courage of the country. Ireland too has orange in its national flag. The history behind this is rather dark compared to the exotic romanticism of India, starting with the defeat by protestant William of Orange over the catholic King James II and continuing today with the Orangemen, contemporary supporters of William. In the Netherlands the royal house is Van Oranje Nassau stemming back to at least William of Orange who founded the house in 1544. This orange reference was once represented on the national flag, until it was changed to red.

When you visit the paint shop, there are so many rich colour names for orange, many conjuring up a oneness with the earth:

Apricot, stemmed from China 4,000 years ago, is a member of the rose family.

Ginger, considered a luxury 5,000 years ago and in the 14th century it cost the same price as a sheep!

Honey, an ancient food used at least 8,000 years ago, according to Spanish rock art

Clay, used in mans first handicraft 24,000 years ago and is ACTUALLY earthly

Amber, a hard fossilised resin of coniferous trees of the Tertiary period

So, from researching all that is orange, it is clear it is a colour like ochre (dark yellow or light orange), and has a place in our ancient history.

Research sourced from:

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