Category Archives: art

What colour is your city?


I came across an interesting blog by Tom Wolley – a freelance illustrator based in West Yorkshire who specialises in illustrated maps and hand lettering – who developed an illustrated colour may of Leeds (which happens to be where I live). What is particularly interesting is that Tom describes his process somewhat. It is well worth looking at and I think his final design (shown above) is rather nice. The yellows and blues are derived from the classical colours of Leeds and Yorkshire although somewhat more muted.

It makes me think. Are certain colours associated with places? Or even with districts? A recent paper by Willem Coetzee and Norbert Haydam at CAUTH 2016 (The Changing Landscape of Tourism and Hospitality: The Impact of Emerging Markets and Emerging Destinations) looked at this. Their paper was called – Colour association test as a target market analysis technique at an emerging destination – an exploratory study. They used colour association as a market analysis technique to measure tourism demand in a small town. The results indicated that different segments of the market had different associations of colour for the same destination.

Colour: Art and Science


I run a module at the University of Leeds called Colour: Art and Science. For me colour is a classic meta-discipline and understanding of colour requires and appreciation of ideas from lots of different academic fields. So I like to present a very multi-disciplinary perspective of colour and I have students enrol from all sorts of different departments in the University which is a lot of fun. One of the main reasons I run this blog is as a resource for those students.

So I was interested to just come across this Brief History of Colour in Art by Sarah Gottesman which covers some of the same stuff that I talk about.

In the same vein I came across this discussion by @CINEMAPALETTES about cinema colour palettes that shows how colours are used to set the mood of iconic films.

Egyptian Blue – the first synthetic pigment

1.78x1.17, 600 dpi scan

The first synthetic pigment – Egyptian Blue – was made by the Egyptians around 4500 years ago. A technique developed by scientists at the British Museum has allowed them to discover traces of Egyptian blue on ancient objects that no longer have their original paint finishes intact. Before the Egyptians learned how to make a synthetic blue pigment from sand and copper the main blue pigment was obtained from the mineral lapis lazuli, first found in Afghanistan about 4500 BC. Extracting blue from lapis lazuli was extremely expensive.

Blue remained an expensive pigment however and came to symbolise truth, peace, virtue and authority in fine art. Images of Mary usually showed her wearing a blue robe. Blue was used for symbolic reasons. Cheaper blue pigments became widely available in the modern era of synthetic pigments.

Further details can be found here.

Making colour!

Interesting review by Charles Hope of Making Colour exhibition at the National Gallery.

In particular it shows the changes made possible by the introduction of new types of paint after 1800. Most of the exhibits are drawn from the gallery’s own holdings, with a few loans from other museums and private collections in Britain.

Anything that reminds us that paintings are objects whose production required much technical knowledge and manual skill, and often a desire to overcome the physical limitations of the materials used, is to be welcomed.

Runs until 9th September 2014.

good reasons to use colour

I just came across this nice article – – entitled 10 reasons to use color.

The article lists 10 good reasons to use colour in design. Number 10 is using colour for metaphor and taking advantage of the associations that are inherent in phrases such as feeling blue or green with envy. There is no doubt about the meaning in the image below; that the woman is filled with envy.



As some of you may know, I was General Chair of AIC2013 this year. We had a great time in Newcastle and spent a week with over 600 delegates talking about colour. But time moves on and we are approaching 2014. I would therefore like to draw your attention to the next AIC meeting which is in Mexico in October 2014. The theme is colour and culture and the venue – Oaxaca – is stunning. I hope to see you there.

For further details visit