Are you reddy?

st moritz 1929

Tamara de Lempicka – St Moritz, 1929

I have a preference for the rich, dark wine colours and cherry purpley reds. To me, these are cosier and warmer than the vibrant shades of scarlet and ruby, which I tend to associate with violence. In Sanskrit as well as in the Inuit language, the word for red is the same as the word for blood and you can see of course why this is so. In Russian the word for red has the same root as the word for beautiful. Red is indeed the colour of drama and passion and is usually chosen to make a bold statement in fashion and interiors. Yves Saint Laurent once cited red as the colour of ‘love, battle, death, and warmth’.

 Red, the strongest colour on the spectrum, is the one that most attracts attention. It was one of the first colours used by prehistoric people to adorn the walls of caves using readily available natural pigments such as red ochre and iron oxide. Throughout history and across many cultures, red has been produced using either plants like madder or rubia, insects such as kermes or cochineal, minerals like cinnabar producing from brick-red, scarlet and vivid crimson to vermillion hue. Once, carmine was introduced in Europe, following the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus’, it was used extensively by the great painters of the 15th and 16th centuries such as Brueghel the Elder, Vermeer, Rubens, Velázquez and Tintoretto.

 Red is the colour of revolution, socialism and features as a colour on many flags symbolizing sacrifice and courage. It is also the colour of joyful celebration and formal ceremony. A red carpet is always de rigueur to welcome distinguished guests and scarlet academic gowns are worn by new graduates in universities and many other schools. Clerical dress often combines black with red as a mark of status and authority.  Red is the international colour of warning and danger. It was chosen due to its brightness in daytime and because it stands out against any natural or artificial background.

Pale to Medium

eileen cooper

Eileen Cooper, Baby talk, 1985.

Bois de Rose, Apple Blossom, Cadmium Red, Coquelicot, Copper Red, Coral Red, Currant Red, Geranium Red, Ruby, Scarlet, Fire Engine Red, Chinese Red, Peony, Madder Red, Pomegranate Red, Safflower Red, Tomato Red , Corinthian Red, Pompeian Red, Vermillion

Medium to Strong

Nasturtium Red, Crimson Red, Claret Red, Burgundy, Carmine, Brick Red, Rufous, Amaranth, Puce, Maroon, Ruddy, Cherry Red, Beetroot Red, Venetian Red, Turkey Red, Garnet, Blood Red, Tuscan Red.

 In the world of interiors:

When the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were re-discovered along with many villas in the Campania area in the mid-eighteen century, the arts world became enchanted with the colourful scenes of the frescoes adorning the interiors of the unearthed homes and shops; The love of neo-classical style became instant and Pompeian red was the colour in vogue for smart dining and drawing rooms and is still current nowadays.



Art deco interiors favoured solid blocks of colours and geometric patterns. Red was a favourite combined with black and white. It added glamour and vibrancy to a room. The English ceramist Clarice Cliff’s work is bold and her stylish designs are typical of this era. For a true red, try Emperor’s silk by Annie Sloan; For a deep and rich red,  how about bronze red by Little Greene or Kimono by Colourtrend.

Out there Now :

Fashion: The French shoe designer Christian Louboutin whose red-lacquered soles have become his recognizable signature.

Emmet Kane 061

Craft: Emmet Kane’s sculptural pieces.

Design: The iconic chairs by Danish designers : the Egg™chair (1958) by Arne Jacobsen, and the Panton Chair (1965) by Verner Panton.

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, Charles Perrault’s fairy-tale, first printed in 1697.

In the Natural world

amanitaThe large white-gilled and white-spotted, usually red mushroom Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric. It is native to conifer and deciduous woodlands and can be found in the northern hemisphere.

Mars, the second smallest planet in the solar system is known as the red planet due to the iron oxide prevalent on its surface, which gives it a reddish appearance.

Red hair varies in colour from a bright or burnt orange to a deep burgundy. Only 1 to 2 % of the human population has red hair and it is more common in people of northern or western Europeans.

The red-crest male bird native of North and South America, the cardinal bird, named appropriately after the catholic cardinal’s mitre.

And finally imagine a fruit salad made of strawberries, cranberries, redcurrants, apples and pomegranate!


In the pink

christo islands

Surrounded Islands by Christo and Jeanne-Claude (1983)

The color pink is named after the flowering plants of the Dianthus species due to its pink shade and frilled edge. The word pink referring to the colour was first used in A Book of Drawing, Limning, Washing (1652) by Thomas Jenner. He explained how to make all sorts colours, grind and lay them as an art media. In 19th century France, the fashion was for boys to wear pink ribbons, pink being considered a stronger and more definite colours when girls wore blue ribbons as the colour was dainty and pretty. In the western world, children were dressed in white and equally wore pink fashion accessories up to the 1940s and by the 1950s, pink was starting to be associated with girls and femininity. During the Second World War, men imprisoned because of their homosexuality had to wear a pink triangle. This symbol was later reclaimed, turned upside down and rendered in hot pink by the gay community worldwide and is now worn with pride. In reference to symbols, it is interesting to note that no flag bears the colour pink.

The colour represents compassion, nurturing and love: the softer the pink, the more tenderness and romanticism it portrays whereas deeper tones convey more passion and intensity. It is a reassuring and calming colour and is said to inspire warmth and positive thinking. Pink often represents sweetness and is associated with innocence and sometimes immaturity especially the pastel pink tones. It  combines beautifully with blues while it adds a touch of elegant sophistication when associated with greys.

paul henry

Low Tide by Paul Henry (1915-1916)

 PALE: Arbustus pink, aurore pink, baby pink- Baker-Miller pink, blush, cameo pink, candy pink, chalk pink, champagne pink, dusty rose, orchid pink, rose quartz, salmon pink, shell pink, tea-rose pink

MODERATE: Carnation pink, charm pink, cherry blossom pink, Congo pink, desert rose, dogwood rose, flamingo pink; hydrangea, old rose, rose, silver pink

DARK: Amaranth, cherry, China rose,  fushia,  hot pink, magenta, Mexican rose,  tango pink, shocking pink


1950s kitchen2The 18th Century French style Rococo made strong use of pastel colours such as Cameo pink. One of the central figures of this artistic movement and advocate of style was the Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV. Her influence was such that the royal manufactory in Sévres created a new colour for its fine porcelains called the “Pompadour pink”.
For their part, Georgian architects favoured dusty pink in the late 19th century England, Ireland and America. Boudoirs and ante rooms with decorated in pinks with flat or old white as complimentary tones. Soft and pale pinks came back in fashion in Edwardian homes where fresh, light colours gave a true feminine touch to interiors. Pink pastels created a delicate setting in 1950s decor when candy pink was the favorite colour. For a gentle pink, try Calamine by Farrow and Ball or Antoinette by Annie Sloan.


  • A pink ribbon, symbol of breast cancer awareness
  • The Pink Pantheryvonne leather ring
  • Marshmallows, one of my favorite sweet!
  • The 1950s inspired SMEG fridge-freezer in pink
  • Sterling silver and leather jewelry by designers Filip Vanas and Yvonne Beale
  • Rosé wines of which the color varies from a pale salmon pink to a raspberry red depending on the grape varieties.

pink flamingoesIN THE NATURAL WORLD

Pitaya is the fruit of a number of cactus species native to Central and South America. It is commomly found in Asia and is called dragon fruit there. Indian Figs also known in French as ‘figue de Barbarie’ are from the same family and grow in the Mediterranean area. Its skin color ranges from a medium to a dark pink. Pink Flamingoes are mainly found in the southern hemisphere. The most widespread species, the greater flamingo can be seen in southern Europe including the Camargue region of France.

Black is the colour

isabella blow

Isabella Blow wearing Philip Treacy’s lace mask (1992)

Black is not a colour as such but the complete absorption of natural light. Black is associated in the Western world with death, mourning, evil, or magic but also with power, elegance and sophistication.

Throughout history the colour black has had both positive and negative connotations. Black is closely linked with mystery and the unknown and in the 17th century, people strongly believed that the devil appeared in the shape of a black animal in the middle of the night during black Sabbath ceremonies.

It was the emblematic colour of the Puritans and protestants during the Reformation, as black was considered the colour of sobriety and simplicity and chosen to underline the contrast with the luxurious red and purple vestments worn by the Pope and cardinals of the Roman church.

 Black was favoured by the Romantics in the 19th Century as it was the perfect colour to depict their melancholic souls. Black has often been the colour of choice for quite a number of would-be revolutionaries: it was chosen by the 1950s Parisian intellectuals to express their individuality, by the young British mods and rockers of the sixties but also later by punks and goths to show their social discontentment. In the United States, the Black Power movement in the late sixties was borne out of a struggle for political and social equality for African-Americans.

 The black flag of the pirates alone was enough to instill fear in other sailors and ordinary folk as they knew that violent events would unfold as soon as the fierce seamen came near. The authoritative symbolism of black is best exemplified in any of the uniforms of members of the armed or police forces throughout the world.

 In the world of fashion, Coco Chanel revolutionized women’s sense of dress forever with her drawing in the American 1926 Vogue magazine of a simple black dress. A trend was born then as well as a new timeless look. By wearing the colour black, women felt empowered and confident like never before in a world dominated by men in black suits albeit through a different kind of power, that of the seductive force of the femme fatale.

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The great black cow in Lascaux

Black was one of the first pigments to be used by our Prehistoric ancestors where it was employed to draw representations of animals or humans almost twenty thousand years ago. Charcoal, burnt bones and manganese oxide were used to produce black to a stunning effect as can be seen in the Lascaux and Niaux caves in the South of France.

 Black was one of the most prominent colours used by ancient Greek artists and potters to create magnificent ceramics. They developed an original firing technique to produce a glossy black. Black ink was produced in Ancient China by using plant dyes or minerals such as graphite which were ground down  and mixed with water. Burnt bones, tar and pitch have been employed in India since at least the 4th century BC as it was common practice to write with ink using a sharp pointed needle. Another historical ink from Ancient Rome was created from salts mixed with tannin extracted from gallnuts. This specific ink was bluish-black but turned to a dull brown as it faded.

 In Medieval times, scribes wrote mainly on parchment or vellum paper and one of the inks they used was derived from a hawthorn bark, wine and iron salt recipe. Obtaining a good quality black pigment was essential for the printing industry as the traditional handwriting Chinese and Indian inks had a tendency to blur as they couldn’t adhere to printing surfaces. A soot, turpentine and walnut oil-based ink was created by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century making it possible to print papers, books and engravings. The Gutenberg Bible was the first book produced with ink pasted over moveable type and was printed in 1451-1452. The Gutenberg press made it possible to spread ideas to the masses for the first time.

 Different civilizations have burned the various plants naturally available to them to produce charcoal pigments. In Alaska, the Inuits mixed wood charcoal with seal blood, for example. In the Polynesian culture, black pigments were made from the soot of burnt candlenut or sometimes coconut mixed with oil or water to create the ink for traditional tattoos.


The umbrellas (1881-1886) by A.Renoir

PALE: Basalt, Anthracite, Charcoal, Soot Black.

MEDIUM: Graphite, Blue Black, Bone Black, Obsidian Black, Vine Black*, Smoky Black.

Vine black was produced in the Roman Empire by burning grapevine branches or dried crushes grapes.

DARK: Brilliant black, Lampblack*, Jet black, crow black, liquorice, Ebony, Onyx, Tar, Indian Black, Mars black*.

Lampblack was originally produced by burning oil in a lamp and collecting the black soot that accumulated on the glass surface. Mars black is a black pigment made of synthetic iron oxides. It takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war.


Black is ideal as an accent colour to give a bit of drama to an interior space. A black patterned wallpaper as an accent wall, a striped rug or a set of textured cushions will add a sense of elegance and boldness to the décor and will contrast beautifully with any other colour.

 Black was much favoured as a colour in the early 20th century Art Deco movement. This influential eclectic style first appeared in France in the 1920s and combined the craft movement floral motifs with the geometrical shapes of industrialization.  This inspirational new design style was all about theatrical exuberance, glamour and progress. Chrome, glass, highly polished wood and glossy black lacquered furniture mixed with silks and furs were all the rage. Irishwoman Eileen Gray was a highly talented architect and furniture designer (1878-1976) whose interiors were imbued with sophistication and modernism at the same time. She was without doubt a visionary designer and a precursor of the modern movement.

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Living-room in the E.1027 House by Eileen Gray (1929)


  •  Lady Gaga unique black perfume Fame.
  • The Manchichi Bar in the Bistrotheque restaurant in East London is  wallpapered with the Midnight Empire Luxury wallpaper by House of Hackney: Pure sophistication!
  • Gail Kelly’s lino-cut designs printed on Irish linen.
  • The Constellation portraits by Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita who uses a single piece of unbroken thread meticulously wrapped around thousands of nails. Absolutely amazing.

gail kelly


The black mamba in Africa is one of the fastest and most venomous snakes in the world. Its name comes from the black colour inside its mouth. Another scary creature is the Black Widow spider, which can be found on every continent in the world, except Antartica and whose bite is harmful to humans but fatal to the male of her species. The black panther is not a separate cat breed but rather a black leopard or jaguar, whose natural markings are hidden by the excess black pigment, melanin.

blackberryThe black truffle grows underground near oak or hazelnut trees mainly in southern France, Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe. It can be found in late Autumn and winter especially in January when its perfume is at its most pungent. Truffles can measure up to 7 cm for a weight of up to 100 gr. Another wild mushroom that grows in Europe called ‘trumpet of death’ in French for its trumpet shape and its black colour has a remarkably nutty flavour and is in season from August until November.

Blackberry and blackcurrant are among my favourite fruits to pick when in season. Their juice is a deep purple-black colour and they make the most delicious jams and desserts.

Grey matters

Paul Henry, The fisherman’s cottage (1916-17)

Grey skies were a too common occurrence this summer in Ireland which is perhaps what inspired me to choose the colour grey for this post. The grey of those all too frequently seen clouds this summer brings Paul Henry’s paintings to mind. It impresses me the way he managed to render the beauty of clouds and natural light so typical of Irish landscape.
Grey is not a colour per se but a light value situated between white and black, both of which are also non-colours. By adding an equal amount of a complementary colour such as yellow or blue let’s say to white and black, grey can be made warmer or cooler. There are therefore countless greyish colours depending on the colour added.

A colour naturally associated with sadness, solitude and dullness in terms of emotions, grey is used to describe a situation that has no clear moral value or when the boundaries or rules are not quite clear: a ‘grey area’. Grey is the colour of ageing, although the only visible evidence of that is in hair colour gradually fading. The colour can also evoke a sense of emptiness and nothingness: when you think for example of the only thing left after a fire is grey ash that can cover everything… yet to see this is restful and gives a sense of serenity and quietude.  In 2002, Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe captures this idea in an art installation at the Scene Gallery in New York following 9/11.

Giovanni Girlamo Salvoldo, Mary Magdalene (1535-40)


Pebble grey, pearl grey, cement grey, French grey, platinum grey, alumimium grey, concrete grey, stone grey, signal grey, ash grey, dove grey, chrome, silver, moss grey,  glaucous grey.


Beige grey, olive grey, metallic grey, mouse grey, steel grey, iron grey, cadet grey, elephant grey.

Joan Eardley, Catterline in Winter (1963)


Davy’s Grey, charcoal, basalt grey, anthracite, umbra grey, graphite, pewter, slate grey.

In the world of interiors

Grey is quite a sophisticated colour and has become recently quite trendy due to the variety of its subtle tones. It gives a clean simple look to any room and is best exemplified by the Gustavian style. Swedish king Gustav III (1746-1792) introduced the neoclassical elegance of the French and Italian courts to his Scandinavian realm.  The local artisans integrated this new decorative style with their own Nordic traditions to produce pieces painted in muted, distressed neutral tones. The choice of stony and greenish greys or bluish white and buttery yellows were popular. The light tones may have been reminiscent of the Swedish landscape, and were certainly appealing to the Swedish temperament.  To create this Timeless and restrained style, Annie Sloan chalk paints, Paris grey and Paloma are ideal.

Out there now

  • The elephant grey tumbler from the linear stem collection by designer Orla Kiely.
  • The autumn/Winter 2012 collection by fashion designer Benan Sahin for Trussardi.
  • The silversmith and jeweller Stuart Cairns has an amazing collection of vessels first exhibited in Belfast in 2006. My favorite is the silver vessel pinned with thorns.

In the Natural World

Native to North America, Eurasia and North Africa, the grey wolf is the largest of its species. It is the sole ancestor of the domestic dog and is about the same size as a German shepherd. Its winter fur is long, bushy and molted grey but can also range from white to browns.

The African grey parrot can be found in western and central Africa. It is the largest and most popular parrot. Its feathers vary in colour from white to ash grey to charcoal with a contrasting scarlet red on its breast.

Elephants are the largest land animal on the planet and their skin is typically greyish in colour.

Hello Yellow

Yellow equals pretty much sunshine and happy feelings. It is a fresh stimulating and cheerful colour that we associate with summertime. Ah the lovely sensation we get from the warm golden glow of the sun shining! It can give us a sense of energy and optimism. The ancient Mayans associated the colour yellow with the direction south and it meant precious and ripe in their culture.

Hazard signs are often shown against a yellow background due to its high visibility.  In 1907, Harry N. Allen, a New York business man created a modern taxi driver company and used yellow for his new fleet when he realised that yellow was the most visible colour from a distance. Cowardice and treachery are the negative connotations of the colour yellow. During the Second World war in Nazi-occupied Europe, Jews were made to wear a yellow star of David on their chest and a yellow armband below their right-handside armpit as they were considered the enemies.

Chrome yellow was the first manufactured yellow that was produced at the beginning of the 19th century. Earlier yellows were muted and obtained from ochre and raw sienna. Orpiment, a rare and toxic mineral varies in colour from an orangy-brown to a canary yellow. It has been identified on ancient Egyptian objects and paintings. It was also used in Northern Europe during medieval times as exemplified in the Book of Kells and Durrow (C.800).  The early Christian monks illustrated the intricate lettering and stylised illuminated figures by grounding the orpiment and mixing the powder with water and egg white to bind the colour onto paper.


Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1957

Buff, old ivory, buttery yellow, buttercup yellow, cerium yellow, Jasmine yellow, Naples yellow, brimstone yellow,  vanilla yellow, mori yellow, primrose yellow, sunlight yellow, copper yellow


JH Fragonard, Young woman reading (1776)

Lemon yellow, mimosa yellow, nasturtium yellow, daffodil yellow, marigold yellow, rape yellow,golden rod, chrome yellow, Hansa yellow, sunflower yellow, canary yellow, saffron yellow, chamomille yellow


Amber yellow, Mars yellow, orpiment yellow, aurora yellow, mustard yellow, maize yellow, Indian yellow, Spanish yellow, tobacco yellow, Gamboge yellow, straw yellow, Mayan yellow, gold, topaz yellow, safflower yellow, turmeric, Venitian yellow

In the world of interiors

Yellow can be a difficult colour to choose for an interior as it may appear too bright and overpower the room visually. It is best to use it in moderation to brighten up a north-facing room or to give a room a sense of gentle warmth by selecting pale shades such as Devine Whip or Crystal by Colortrend.

Throughout the decades, from the Shakers who only used primary colours to the the Arts and Crafts artisans who got their colour inspiration from flowers and plants and the Art Deco designers, yellow has been extensively used. Yellow was one of the favorite colours of the pop art culture of the Sixties which favored bright bold colours. Try Cowslip or Camomile by Laura Ashley  for their boldness and intensity.

Rich golden yellows decorated the interiors of early 19th century homes after the discovery of frescoes in Pompeii during extensive excavations. This trend persisted later in the century with the influence of travellers bringing back artefacts from exotic countries such as Egypt, Morocco or India.  Try Babouche by Farrow and Ball.

Summertime by C.Boydell

Out there Now

  • Summertime and Rince (Dancing), ceramics in Irish terracotta by Cormac Boydell
  • The Ardea armchair designed by Carlo Mollino in 1944 available from Zanotta
  • The Dani natural raffia dress by John Rocha, Spring/Summer 2012 collection
  • The Simpsons: their creator Matt Groening chose yellow for his characters as it was different and bright.

In the Natural World

The number of plants, flowers, birds and butterflies showing a variation of the colour yellow is quite vast. One of the first flowers to announce the Spring season is the daffodil.  Canaries are one of the most common feathered pets and the sight of fluffy newly-hatched chicks is n uplifting experience. Sulphur is an abundant natural mineral whose well-know daily uses include matches and insecticides. It has the characteristic pungent smell of a rotten egg. Onion skins, rhubard and turmeric naturally produce different yellow dyes.

Forty shades of green

Green is the colour that is the most visible to the human eye. We are indeed surrounded by it wherever we go in the shape of fields, meadows, grass, trees, bushes and leaves.  For that reason, it represents Nature and its attributes such as rebirth, regeneration, fertility, freshness and life. Green is therefore a colour mainly associated with ecology and peace. Since medieval times, green has also an association with calamity or misfortune and is the colour that symbolizes envy and jealousy. Green is people’s second favorite colour after blue. It usually brings a sense of safety and harmony and has the same calming attributes of the colour blue.  It can be mentally and physically soothing as a colour. As a matter of fact, in the entertainment world, the green room is the room where performers and guests go to relax before and after appearances.

Philip Wilson Steer, Beach at Etaples (1887)


Almond green, light green, pistachio green, artemisia green, mist green, celadon , sage green, verdigris, ocean green, apple green, grape green, fern green, laurel green, opal green, tea green, chartreuse, sea-green, eau de nil.


Marc Chagall, the poet reclining (1915)

Grassy green, Scheele’s green, emerald green, avocado green, cabbage green, Cyprus green, teal green, Persian green, malachite green, olive green, sap green, asparagus green, jungle green, mantis green, harlequin green, jade, Kelly green.


Army green, bottle green, Pine green, Hooker’s green, Moss green, cypress green, forest green, spinach green, hunter green, myrtle green, holly green, Brunswick Green.

In the world of interiors

Green is easy on the eye and soothing therefore it is an ideal colour in bedrooms,  living-rooms and offices. Various shades of green harmonize beautifully as in they do in Nature. The neo-classical interiors of the mid 18th century favoured pale olive green and pale apple green. Check Devine Fescue and Devine blade by Colortrend. Strong colours were used in early Georgian architecture such as pea green or grass green in south-facing parlours. Deeply influenced by nature, the art nouveau colour schemes were quite muted.  Eau de nil and sage green were popular then. Try croscombe and pluckley by Albany, Traditions. Lime and pistachio green were the favorite greens in the 1950s. Check quince, a light lemonish-green by Kevin McCloud  for Fired Earth.

Out there now

  • Berry tree wallpaper by Scion, Melinki Collection                          
  • Brushed lime throw by Cushendale Wollen Mills, Co.Kilkenny.
  • ‘Apple Vase’ by Ingeborg Lundin, 1957
  • Selene chair by Vico Magistretti, creator of the first monobloc chair, 1969
  • The ‘green wall’ by the landscape designer and botanist Patrick Blanc on part of the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.
  •  My favourite muppet, the one and only , Kermit the frog

In the Natural world

The verdigris agaric is a medium-size slimy mushroom found in grassy woodlands  from  Spring to Autumn. Its colour becomes yellow–ochre as it matures and it grows in Britain, Europe and Iran.

The plumage of most of the Amazon parrots is of a bright green. These birds are native  to Mexico, South America and the Carribean.

Emerald, jade, malachite and tourmaline are naturally green stones ranging from pale to deep hues.

Orange you trendy

Orange was first recorded as a colour in English in 1512. It is named after the fruit and is the most under-valued and rejected colour on the colour chart. Some people find orange superficial if not overbearing.

Andy Goldworthy

Like many people, I’m sure, I personally associate orange with Autumn and the gradual changing of leaves from amber to burnt orange, reddish purple and russet brown, marking the end of the summer. There is nothing more inviting and mesmerizing than this recurring colourful spectacle come September. Another natural association is the sun setting when the sky turns into dramatic and beautiful shades of golden oranges and copper reds. Finally, the soothing and comforting glow of embers and flickering flames of a fire in the middle of winter.
Orange is one of my favorite colours as I find it uplifting and warm both as a colour to wear and as a colour to live with.

Pale: Buff, almond, peach, apricot, salmon, melon, pastel orange

Art reference: Alphonse Mucha, F. Chamenois, France 1898; Pablo Picasso, Les demoiselles d’Avignon*, 1906.

Moderate: Amber, tangerine, carrot orange, coral, saffron, fawn, pumpkin, ginger, tan, Bronze, cinnamon

Art reference: Edward Hopper, Pennsylvania coal town, 1947.

Dark: Rust, mahogany, burnt sienna, sinopia, burnt orange, ochre, Persian orange, copper, terracotta

Georgia O’Keefe, Canna, red and orange, 1922

In the world of interiors

The Victorian palette was dominated by warm strong colours such as terracotta and ochre. Three-part colour schemes were favored for wall treatment: the colour from the floor to the dado rail could be fawn, then from the dado rail to the picture rail, ochre and from the picture rail to the coving, buff. This popular treatment would add richness and drama to the room.

During the 1960s vibrant colours were much in vogue and particularly orange, which was seen as a fun colour.The Finnish furniture maker and designer Eero Aarnio exemplified the style of that era the best with his Ball armchair *(1963).

Recommended paint shades: ‘Charlotte’s Locks’ by Farrow & Ball for a daring orange and ‘Ballet Shoe’ by Earthborn for a gentle shade.

Out there now

• Scottish fashion designer Jonathan Saunders’ spring 2011 and 2012 collection• Irish candle maker Larry Kinsella’s crakle glaze and glow-globe candles
• The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, an art deco building painted in international orange.

In the natural world

The following plants contain natural dyes that will give various shades of orange:
Henna: the leaves of this small tree which grows in hot and dry areas of the Middle East and North Africa have been used as a dye substance for centuries. Madder: A plant native to Asia and Eastern Mediterranean countries which can produce colours ranging from apricot to dark red. Onion skins as well as sycamore seeds will give rusty shades and subtle skin colour.

The earth pigment ochre is the oldest known natural pigment. It can be found in the Provencal village of Roussillon in the South of France. It comes in about 25 shades ranging from delicate yellow to bright orange and deep red and has been used as a paint or dye material since prehistoric times. The Romans produced pottery glazes with ochre. Ochre can also be found elsewhere: The Aborigines as well as the Maori use it for their artwork, body decoration and mixed with oil it can be used as a sealant for wooden boats.

A type of Polynesian fish iihi, close to the red mullet is of a luminous orange shade.