What Color is Fig Leaf?

July 19, 2012

I’ve been working on a rather difficult commission.  Of course a commission is always more difficult than just painting something I can visualize.  You have to try to figure out what is in someone else’s head.  The woman who comissioned this particular painting  tried to be as helpful as possible.  She had very exact ideas of what she wanted.  One of the ways she communicated this to me was by giving me those paint samples you can pick up in any store selling house paint.

The painting is to be a floral painting and she specified exactly what color she wanted the various flowers, grass, leaves and sky to be with those paint samples.  Now all I have to do is try to figure out what colors to mix to come up with colors called Torchlight, Powder Room, Fig Leaf, Sanctuary, Whipple Blue and Sea Spray.  That is not easy but it is an interesting learning experience.  For the colors that are somewhat grayed, I must figure out how much of the complementary color to add to the mix I’ve concocted from my tubes of paint.

I’ve looked through these kinds of paint samples before when we have had walls painted in our house.  Who names these colors, I wondered and where do they come up with these names?  For instance, the color Powder Room is a sort of dark, dulled red.  Not exactly the color I’d choose for a powder room in my house.  And Sanctuary is kind of an institutional dull light green, not a color I can remember seeing in a sanctuary. 

Paint stores change their colors from time to time meaning more new names are needed to match the shades that are popular this season.  I like the way the colors are named in my paint tubes better.  While many colors have two word names, one of the words tends to refer to the actual color, such as ultramarine blue or cadmium red.  And the names and the colors stay the same year after year.  It is up to the creative ability of the artist to combine them in an original way.

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One thought on “What Color is Fig Leaf?

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