I have been reading Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. I am dragging my feet in finishing it because I am enjoying it that much. She goes through each color as a section, and talks about it’s history and it’s uses and travels to the far-flung places where the color was originally sourced. Not all these places are easily accessible tourist destinations, such as the lapis mines in Afghanistan she visits or remote villages in India seeking a yellow that was once thought to be made from the urine of cows fed mango leaves.
The making and mining of color has also in the past and even now, been a closely guarded secret. Recipes are guarded like gold, and in some cases deemed even more precious. When you read this book you taste the color, and you smell the color.
I find my mind creates wonderful pictures from the descriptions of the people she meets in her travels as well and I almost want to read the book with a brush in one hand. When in the very near future I turn the last page, it will be a wistful moment.