I’m so lucky to be surrounded by so many beautiful shades of pink these days – gorgeous flowers everywhere, including my parents’ rose garden, which is where I took these photos above! And, since there is so much pink around me, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about one of my favorite colors, pink, which is often featured in my art.
Here are a few facts about this lovely color:
WHY IS IT CALLED “PINK”?
The color pink takes its name from a flower called Dianthus plumarius, a plant in the Carophyllaceae family. That flower is sometimes commonly referred to as “pink” because of its frilled edges. The word “pink” used to refer to a perforated pattern and that’s why those scissors with the zigzag edge are called “pinking shears.”
In other languages, the color we know as pink is named after roses instead!
WHY ARE SOME FLOWERS PINK?
Pink is one of the more common flower colors and is the result of natural pigments called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, which also produce the pink color of some fruit. Anthocyanins are just one category of flavonoid and, in addition to pink, are also the reason we have red, blue, and purple flowers. Over 9000 different types of flavonoids are responsible for all the beautiful colors we see in botany. Those pretty, bright colors help ensure flowers’ reproductive success by attracting pollinators.
HOW ARE PINK ART SUPPLIES MADE?
How about the pink that we find in our art supplies? Where do they get their color from?
Those pinks were originally derived from rose madder dye extracted from the root of the Rubia tinctorum plant, originally found in India, the Middle East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. Evidence of madder as a dye has been found in paintings and decor from these regions as early as 1500 BC.
Madder contains two dyes: alizarin and purpurin. In the late 1800s, the alizarin portion of madder was chemically synthesized, shifting the origin of pink dye from the natural rose madder plant to the less expensive synthetic alizarin. Nowadays, the more light-resistant quinacridone has predominantly replaced alizarin.
And if those pinks aren’t pink enough for you, there’s always the pinkest pigment ever developed – simply called “Pink” and created by UK artist Stuart Semple in 2016. You can read more about Stemple’s pigment (and his ongoing feud with fellow artist Anish Kapoor over the blackest black) HERE.
For all you artists out there: The next time you bring out your paints, be sure to take a few minutes to see if your reds and pinks are labeled “madder”, “alizarin” or “quinacridone”!
Until next time, dear friends, Happy Creating!
If you enjoy colors are much as I do, be sure to follow me on Instagram, @gracerajendran, where I regularly do a Today’s Palette post, highlighting the many gorgeous hues I see while I’m out and about! I’ll be posting a Today’s Palette single- color exploration similar to this one about once a month on this website. And, for more content, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Grace Notes (form at right)!