The Secret Lives of Color
On a joyous sunny day in mid February, one of those rare treats when the sun beams with shocking contrast to the typical endlessly dreary winter months we experience in the Pacific North West. On such a day there is only one thing you MUST do. Get outside, just get out there and soak up those glorious rays of pure golden radiance.
This day I decided to saunter up The Drive to do a few errands. Walking on the sunny side of the street headed north, as I passed the window of Pulp Fiction a few book covers on display caught my eye. I had to check these out. Stepping inside I was immediately reminded how much I love bookstores. I really love them. There is something magically stimulating being surrounded by so many diverse ideas in print form. I simply don’t get this excited visiting Amazon or Audible. However, much I enjoy the convenience of these sites they do not have the appeal of walking down narrow aisles — my eyes skipping from title to cover to whatever may seduce, then a jolt — full stop, this one is pulled off the shelf, opened up and pages pondered. This particular afternoon it was the book The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair (Penguin edition published 2017) that I perused the pages of. The cover design hooked me for sure but the title convinced me. And what a delightful book. So thoughtfully considered all the way to the index. After reading the beginning of a few chapters I was sold. This one is coming home.
I’m only into the first chapter titled White: Lead White, Ivory, Silver, Whitewash, Isabelline, Chalk, Beige and I’m loving the historical reference to how these colours are chemically composed, the cultural significance, the rise in popularity and decline as in the deadly consequences of working with Lead White. As someone who swoons over an elegantly typeset page, along with with wise crafted words — well, I found a little piece of heaven.
Some thoughtful quotes from the book.
“Do words shape the shade of color we see?”
“It is the best possible sign of a color when nobody who sees it knows what to call it”
—John Ruskin, 1859