As our colour season draws to a close let’s recap in a quiz, and find out if you’re a fiery red or a mellow yellow (don’t worry, it’s just for fun)
1. You are magically transformed into a shape. Which shape is it?
A. A circle
B. A triangle
C. A square
D. A bigger square
2. You’re buying a T-shirt. Which colour suits you best?
3. Which best describes you?
A. A contradiction between excitement and repose
B. Serene, gay and softly exciting
C. Graceful, dignified and attractive
D. Positive, but quite cold
4. Which biblical character do you most identify with?
A. The Virgin Mary
B. Saint Peter
C. Mary Magdalen
D. Judas Iscariot
5. Time to relaaaaax. Who do you turn to?
A. David Hockney
B. Olafur Eliasson
C. Mark Rothko
D. Kazimir Malevich
6. You’re painting your masterpiece. What is it?
A. A monochrome canvas. You’re aiming for something close to pure space
B. A sunny scene, with warm masses of light in a mellow color
C. A nice folk scene, like a postman’s wife carrying her geese to market
D. Something to represent a new beginning
7. You’re setting up a museum of human history. What do you exhibit?
A. An expensive mineral from Afghanistan
B. Lead and tin oxides
C. Mexican insects
D. Wood and peach stones, please
8. You’re going through a rough patch at work. Which title best describes your darkest day?
B. The Decline of an Empire
C. The Great Day of His Wrath
D. The Lights Going On and Off
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RESULTS!
Mostly As — BLUE
Whether you err towards the cool pool of Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, the lapis lazuli of Titian’s sky or the melancholy of Whistler’s Nocturnes, you’re the colour that has fascinated artists for centuries.
Traditionally used by Renaissance painters to cloak the Virgin Mary, you may have a boldness akin to royalty — or perhaps a presence that’s ‘powerful, but on the negative side,’ as theorised by the 19th century writer, Wolfgang von Goethe, in his Theory of Colours. This work of genius also gave us the colour wheel and the idea of complementaries — which is why orange is just your colour.
Now, we don’t like to spread gossip, but the Expressionist painter Franz Marc also commented that you have a ‘male principle, stern and spiritual’, while his friend Wassily Kandinsky, a teacher at the Bauhaus, was convinced that you are is innately associated with the shape of a circle (and yellow with triangle, red with square).
Best of all, though, the French artist Yves Klein was so fascinated with you that he made nearly 200 monochrome canvases in your honour. Assuming you’re his particular, patented shade of ultramarine, International Klein Blue — a colour he believed to be ‘close to pure space’ — that is.
Mostly Bs — YELLOW
Good day sunshine! You’re the warm, mellow, light that Sir Joshua Reynolds told his Royal Academy students should flood their canvases, keeping cooler colours such as blue (boo!) to smaller surrounding areas.
For those who bathed under the glow of Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project at Tate Modern in 2003, Goethe’s idea that yellow is ‘serene, gay and softly exciting’ sounds about right — but we don’t know how the venerable Saint Peter would have felt about that.
In Renaissance painting, his traditional gleaming yellow robes were usually painted in lead-tin yellow, an artificial pigment created by firing the oxides of lead and tin in a furnace to over 800°C. So don’t let red take all the fiery glory, yellow — you’re hot stuff! Shine even brighter by wearing purple, your complementary colour.
Mostly Cs — RED
Graceful, dignified and attractive? Well red, that’s not what we’ve heard… but perhaps old Goethe had a soft spot for you. When paired with your complementary colour, green, at Christmas time you appear quite innocent, but rumour has it you’re something of a Mary Magdalene the rest of the year (she’s often depicted in red or semi-naked). Or perhaps we’ve got you all wrong, and you’re just a simple peasant woman taking your geese to market (above), as seen in Tate Britain’s recent Folk Art show.
Either way, there’s no getting around your fiery tendencies; a bad day at the office could easily turn into John Martin’s The Great Day of His Wrath (below), or perhaps the brooding introspection of Rothko’s Black on Maroon (above).
We’ll leave you with the thought that your pigment is often made from crushed Mexican scale insects, which produces a purplish-red dye called cochineal.
Mostly Ds — BLACK
Well dark horse, you’re the futility that has maddened painters for hundreds of years! While mixing colours together in light makes white, mixing them together in paint makes BLACK - making representing the world in paint basically impossible. After the Impressionists got about as close as they were going to, modernists like Malevich decided to ditch representation altogether to make a new, autonomous art that was free of traditional conventions. He described his famous Black Square as ‘a bare icon… for my time,’ and the ‘new beginning’ referred to in question 6. Incidentally, Malevich’s nothingness pigment of choice is created by scorching wood and peach stones to mark charcoal.
An inevitable mix of As, Bs, Cs and Ds — BROWN
Sorry reader, but you are brown. Don’t worry! You’ve just ably demonstrated the challenge that painters have faced for all time — that if you take a bit of this colour and a bit of that and keep going, more often than not you’ll get a muddy brown. A quick lesson for life: two primaries make a secondary (eg mix red and yellow to make orange); three primaries make BROWN (which can be lovely, of course, in the right hands). Get a grip on the colour wheel before embarking on that masterpiece.