winter reading and experiments

January 13, 2020  •  6 Comments

It is always good and comforting to have a nice stack of books in the house for that snowy or otherwise miserable winter day.  Here is the group we are reading at this point.  Obviously, not all are new editions, but a good book is a good book, whenever it is read.  The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede is the incredibly uplifting account of how people in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, swung into action to take care of some 6,000 passengers on flights from Europe and elsewhere, who were not allowed to land in the United States when the 9/11 attack happened.  In my mind, it is a love story about the people who opened their hearts and homes, and gave of themselves to so many they did not know on that fateful day.

winter readingwinter reading

The # 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is a light and wonderful novel about a woman in Botswana who establishes the agency with the proceeds from the sale of her father's cattle when he dies.  And it goes from there.

Hampton Sides, Santa Fe resident and contributing editor to Outside Magazine, is the author of Ghost Soldiers, a true story about a rescue mission in the Philippines during World War II.  One of those bits of history about which very little is told.

Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari takes the reader through humans' DNA evolution to the agricultural revolution to the scientific revolution and modern times.  It will put intellectual meat on your brains.

I have written before about The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. Packed with so much physics, science, and information about color that I treat it as a snack, it is the theme of today's blog.  I take a little taste of it each day, and try to remember the pithy details.  Here, I address her section on the color green and its many variations.  

Green is green is green.  Or is it?  There are roughly 1,800+ colors swatches in the Pantone color matching system.  The company was established in the 1950s in New York City.  Later, a color matching system was established within Pantone by a part-time employee and Hofstra University graduate.  (That in itself is an amazing story about which you can read more in Wikipedia).  But given the huge number of color variations in existence, St. Clair took a sampling of colors from each group to include in her book.  Today's blog covers her featured "greens".  My mission was to find something that more or less matched the greens she features in her book.  Some were a bit more problematic than others because of the basic printing process for the book, the paper used, and how the paper handled the different colors.  


Verdigris is the first "green" described by St. Clair.  I happened to find many matches for this particular color, both in the landscape and in my closet.

color experiment - verdigriscolor experiment - verdigris  

Next was absinthe.  A solicitation letter from Habitat for Humanity used almost precisely the same color.

color experiment - absinthecolor experiment - absinthe

Celadon is interesting because it ranges from a green that has a more yellowish tint to some actual celadon pottery we have from Korea that is similar to the verdigris featured earlier.  The tea cup shown below leans more to yellow.

color experiment - Celadoncolor experiment - Celadon

I actually had difficulty finding St. Clair's versions of both Kelly green and Emerald green which both seemed more than a little "off" to me compared to what I think of in terms of those colors.  This was the closest I could find to match the page swatch.

color experiment - Kelly greencolor experiment - Kelly green

Emerald wasn't much better, but this was an exercise in both visualizing color, finding matches, and photographing them.

color experiment - Emerald Greencolor experiment - Emerald Green

The surprise of the group was a color labeled Terre Verte.  I think of it as a shade of khaki, which I consider a brown.  A pair of trousers was almost a total match.

color experiment - Terra Vertecolor experiment - Terra Verte

The avocado color on the label of a bottle of olive oil, and actually the oil itself, was a pretty good match for the page edge in St. Clair's book

color experiment - Avocadocolor experiment - Avocado

A photograph I took of lotus leaves was the closest I could come to Scheele's green.  A Swedish scientist, Scheele "was studying the element arsenic when he came across the compound copper arsenite, a green that, though a slightly grubby pea shade, he immediately recognized as having commercial potential in an industry starved for green pigments and dyes."  The rest, as they say, is color history.

color experiment - Scheele's greencolor experiment - Scheele's green

We live in an incredible world, one in which artists and photographers can utilize the many colors around us in addition to the many variations in the grey scale.  Enjoy your explorations!

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Charlie K-C(non-registered)
I love this.
Sara Woodburn(non-registered)
You never cease to amaze me with your various explorations of thought and image. Of course, I am particularly fond of the study of color too. I will look for this book and can suggest another to you, Color, a Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay. As quoted in her green chapter, "It's not easy bein' green." Kermit the frog
Steve Immel(non-registered)
As if I didn't have enough books on my list. You've outdone yourself in your examination of literature and colors. It's thoroughly entrancing to read your text and to see the various color names next to the colors themselves. I'm not sure I've ever seen the colors so clearly presented. The very concept of finding an example of each if these colors around the house amazes me.

I will have to acquire The Day the World Came to Town. A book about love and kindness is much needed right now.
Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
I am always amazed by the beauty and originality of your subjects you choose. Very interesting info on what appear to be very interesting books!
Thanks Daryl!
[email protected](non-registered)
How fun, Daryl! Yes, these cold days are good for reading, and looks like you've been doing plenty of that. Interesting books!

I love the smell of new books, which I guess has absolutely nothing to do with your post, today. When I was in third or fourth grade, we had the most beautiful elementary school. The walls between the classes were floor to ceiling glass enclosures, and there were rocks and plants within each 'wall'. Then one night the small town stood on the streets and watched it burn to the ground. To me, it was sad and scary. Classes were moved to an old empty high school building, and all the books salvaged smelled of charred wood. When we got the new books, the kids were smelling the delightful pages and excitement filled the class. I think most of the kids that experienced that probably appreciate a good book, especially a new one, like I do.

I think it's wonderful how you could find all those colors to match the colors in the book. What a different kind of subject! I enjoyed reading it.
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