We all, of course, know what the word ‘colour’ means, but start trying to describe the subject in more detail and it is easy to come unstuck. Perhaps this is why there are so many different adjectives employed for various shades – whereas some might say ‘red’ or ‘pink’, others come up with ‘rose’, ‘salmon’, ‘fushia’, ‘crimson’ … the list is endless.
It is this overlap between our instinctive reaction to colour and our attempts to articulate this that is at the heart of an appealing new book by artist and illustrator Marion Deuchars. The book focuses on the colours favoured by great artists, and, as you might imagine, is packed with shades of every hue – from ‘black pearl’ to ‘paradise pink’ (both favoured by Gaughin) to ‘knight blue’ and ‘gambit’ (Paul Klee) and ‘flax’ and ‘Kazimir Blue’ (Kazimir Malevich).
Deuchars allows the artists to do the talking too, with the book featuring quotes on colour from artistic greats from Marc Chagall to Derek Jarman. “In our life there is a single colour which provides the meaning of life and art, it is the colour of love,” says Chagall, while Matisse is quoted simply as saying, “Black is a colour”.
It is Deuchar’s illustrations that make the book so charming, however. There have been a number of art books published of late that tackle the seemingly simple subjects of patterns, shapes and colours. While primarily aimed at children, they hold an appeal for adults too (or for adults to buy for their children). This is particularly the case with Deuchar’s Colour, which features excellent printing that really brings the dynamic shades to life (including the deep blacks, not easy to pull off).
The result is a book that will appeal to artists and children, or really anyone with a love of colour – which is everyone, isn’t it?
Colour by Marion Deuchars is available from Particular Books, priced £20; mariondeuchars.com