Who was the first trend-setting “Colorist?”

We’re always so busy in our daily lives — both personally and professionally–that we don’t often pause to really think about what was happening in the very, very early times of human development and how it might relate to us today.

I remember when, as a child, one of my favorite subjects was “cave men” and how they lived. Those early cultures held a mysterious fascination for me. OK, so I’m actually a frustrated archaeologist!

painting of early men culture

The paintings of Charles R. Knight, (1874-1953), influenced our impressions of the prehistoric world.

When the recent New York Times article on the amazing discovery of a  “100,000-year old paint workshop” came to my attention, I not only enjoyed reading it but was compelled to emerge from a sort of “Blog-out” of being absent from posting for quite a while.

This is what it made me think about, to start with:

  • Symbolic use of color in many cultures
  • Who made the color decisions “way back then?”
  • What was the “psychology” of those early people and how did the arrive at their discoveries and uses of color?
  • How did they continue, over time, to make new pigment discoveries and record them?
  • How were the colors communicated from one group to another, and
  • Did they have what we call “personal preferences?”

I’m sure the answers to these questions are elementary to the people who make this study their life’s work.

But this discovery feels like a jolt to the modern world of design, fashion, color trends, and modern paint techniques. If we are open to it, we’ll appreciate new dimensions in our current way of thinking about color, pigment, and paint mixing. Organic color sources of many types are at the foundation of  modern paint colors that we use most often in our own home decorating.

Another way of looking at it is as another example of the connection between art and science and, in this case, history—literally!

New York Times article - image

Image from the New York Times article.

Image source: New York Times
Grethe Moell Pedersen

But what do you think?
And, what do you know, for a “fact”?

If you do read the article, be sure to go to the readers’ comments there, which are fascinating and informative as well!

I”ll certainly be interested your thoughts, too.

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2 Comments »

  1. Very interesting questions, Barbara!I will have a looka at some of my art books.Surely early colors were related to natural materials…

    Comment by Isabel de Y — October 16, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  2. I agree Barbara…and the NYT article and various reportings on this subject enhance our view of cave paintings, already a fascinating subject, and our sense of relationship to our ancestors!

    Comment by debra disman — October 16, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

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