The Secret Language of Color
Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue & Violet
Joann Eckstut and Arielle Eckstut
In the same format as The Elements by Theodore Gray (BDL, 2009) comes the most complete, fascinating, and beautiful book ever written on color and how it affects everything in the universe in profound ways.
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“[T]hose intending just a casual perusal will find themselves engrossed by this terrifically entertaining and informative volume.”
– Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
When Joann and Arielle Eckstut, both of whom built careers on their expertise with color, set out to write a book about the topic, their investigation took them far beyond the world of art and design – and into the realm of physics, chemistry, astronomy, optics, neuroscience, geology, botany, zoology, biology, linguistics, sociology, art history, and more. As a result, The Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue & Violet takes readers on a spectacular journey across a wide range of topics, from Newton’s experiments with a prism to how color colors the world of plants, animals, and humans, to details about each of the specific hues of the visible spectrum.
Most of us are only dimly aware of the extent to which color pervades our lives, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to culture and psychology. The Secret Language of Color is a thorough and visually stunning exploration of a little-understood subject, providing insight into such phenomena as why the sky is blue, how color vision evolved in animals and humans, why animals display the range of colors that they do, and the use of color in religion, ritual, design, navigation, communication, and identity.
In this “terrifically entertaining” volume, you will discover that Newton’s mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow, ROYGBIV, was completely arbitrary – Newton settled on seven colors because he wanted them to mirror the seven tones of the musical scale – and optical laws do make the grass look greener on the other side because when we look at the grass under our feet, we also see dirt, stones, gum wrappers, and other items scattered within that make the grass appear less green.
You will also discover the secrets of dye and how colors come from a panoply of odd, and at times dangerous, substances. Cochineal bugs are dried and crushed to make a vibrant red dye. Saffron, the most expensive spice on earth, creates a rich, deep yellow. Arsenic was once used to make an emerald green pigment. Mauve, the color of the first chemical dye, was discovered in a lab accident involving the organic compound aniline, in 1856. And we all know that purple has always been associated with royalty, but did you know it is because it was one of the most expensive and onerous colors to produce? It took 250,000 mollusks to make just one ounce of the coveted Tyrian purple that was used to dye the cloaks of kings. Furthermore, if you wore royal purple in the Middle Ages without the King’s consent, the punishment for breaking this sumptuary law was death.
In the world of medicine, you will learn the two reasons surgeons wear green scrubs, as opposed to white. First, to disguise the bloodiness of the job – bright red blood looks brown on blue-green fabric. Second, eyes become desensitized when they stare continuously at one color – except when the complementary color is present. Since blue-green is the complement of red, surgeon’s eyes can stay focused throughout a lengthy operation.
In the tradition of The Elements, Solar System, and Skulls, The Secret Language of Color is richly designed and packed with incredible images, fascinating stories and information. This is perfect for designers and artists, and anyone interested in the science, history, or sociology of color.
Below, Joann and Arielle go through some secrets of designing with color!
Joann Eckstut is a leading color consultant who works with a wide range of professionals including architects, developers, and manufacturers of name brands. She is founder of The Roomworks, a prominent NYC interior design firm and is one of 12 designers chosen by the Color Association of the United States to create the yearly interior/environmental forecast that is bought by major industries to keep up with color trends. She is the author of Room Redux: The Home Decorating Workbook and The Color Palette Primer: A Guide to Choosing Ideal Color Combinations for Your Home. She lives in Rensselaerville, New York.
Arielle Eckstut is the author of 8 books including The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. She is co-founder of The Book Doctors with her husband David Henry Sterry, a company dedicated to helping writers successfully publish their books. She is also co-founder of the iconic company, LittleMissMatched, which has become a national brand with stores all over the United States including Disneyland, Disney World, and Fifth Avenue in New York City. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.