Wednesday, February 8, 2017

O C H R E / Colour of the Month #2

As we start the new year here is an update on new colour vibes! This month we are celebrating the deep-warm and vibrant Ochre colour. Also known as natural earth, soil and terra, which still is a big trend today. You may find inspiration and insight on how to apply this colour today, creating smart colour swatches and inspirational mood-boards! 

First ever used pigment

Etymology: ochra rossa
Source: mineral
Chemical name: iron-oxide rich earth
Colour range: red-orange-yellow

A little bit of history...

The earth’s crust is rich in iron oxides, ochres and minerals, which can be used as pigments and is found in a variety of shades and tones: from red, yellow and purple ochres, green earths (terre verte), whites and blacks. Hematite and limonite are the most important oxides found in ochres, which gives its colour. 

It can be said that ochre has been the first coloured pigment used by prehistoric people found in the oldest of civilisations. The first earth pigments date from 350,000 BC but there is no evidence of it just until the Upper Paleolithic period around 90,000 BC, which can be seen in mural art in different archaeological sites.

The Egyptians used yellow ochre in tomb painting, though occasionally they used orpiment, which made a brilliant colour but was highly toxic. On the other hand, red ochre in Ancient Egypt was used as a rouge, or lip-gloss for women. Ochre clays were also used for medicinal purposes, which such use is described in different papyrus.

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance it continue to be used by artists and be part of their colour palette. Red ochre sticks were made by digging into the earth and carving them ready to be used. Natural red chalks, with a warm tone were quite popular during the 14th and 15th centuries.  Artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo, used this medium for painting the world’s famous art pieces in history. 

The experience of collecting colour samples is incredible! I had the chance to go to the area of Montserrat in Spain where a vibrant red ochre is present all around the mountains. I collected red ochre in rock and powdered form. This feeling of having colour in your hands is fascinating; understanding its provenance,  where it comes from, how it looks like, why this geological formation, feeling its texture; smelling its aroma, is an experience I highly recommend!

Below you may find a mood-board with experiments of colour translated onto various surfaces.

Photos: KKgas, Laura Daza, @marieboegly