Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I noticed the "Blue" microphone and blue vase on my desk today.  The serendipity tickled me so much, I had to take a photo.  This was going to be my Wordless Wednesday post, but I have a few thoughts about Blue.

Blue and orange is one of my favorite color combos, and I don't even care for the Broncos or football in general.

Coincidentally, Is Now the Bluest Time in Art? appeared on the art blog, Hyperallergic, yesterday. Martin Bellander analyzed 100 randomly-selected pixels of images of 130,000 paintings gleaned off the web and plotted color prevalence vs. time.
Visualization of the colors of 94,526 paintings from between 1800 and 2000 (courtesy Martin Bellander)
Isn't this interesting?  What's going on?  Can you tell when synthetic "Prussian" blues were invented?  Or when travel to Afghanistan became more or less perilous?  (This makes sense if you read Color: A Natural History of the Palette.)  Are our aesthetics changing in response to technical and market advances or vice versa?


I have mentioned previously that I married a spectroscopist and that we met across a laser table at Berkeley. Most people don't know what a spectroscopist is. The short answer is that they infer stuff about stuff based on the color(s) of light that the stuff absorbs or gives off.  It's basically applied quantum mechanics.

You may have noticed that we visit art museums a lot. We talk about both the aesthetic and technical aspects of color more than most families.


  1. Reminds me of the tumblr "Yellow Milkmaid Syndrome," about color and art and digital images:

    1. Yup, Bellander wrote about the problem of working with photographs vs. seeing the actual works in person. But, I doubt a graduate student could afford to travel to study that many works in person.

      He's planning to compare the color prevalence of a sampling of paintings in real life and in imagery to gauge the effect.

    2. And let us not forget color changes over time. Have you see the Clifford Stills in SFMOMA? The reds have shifted dramatically since I was a teen. They are now brown.


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