Monday, 9 April 2012

Did you know... Carmine?

Mexican Flamingo
Pen and ink sketch by Estelle Rocca-Serra
As you may know, during the competition, I've been sent on a forced holiday, so I'm exploring and reporting from beyond Studio 231 West.

All the way from Central America, I've been investigating the gorgeous Carmine.

Also called Crimson, it is a cool (as in “not warm”, although it is quite a cool colour!) red with a bluish tinge.

The colour comes from a natural dye, the carminic acid, extracted from female cochineal insects – Coccus Cacti – who, as its name suggests lives on cacti, and is found mostly in Central America and Canary Islands.

As it’s a dye, unfortunately, the colour is not permanent and will fade over time, but it is still used in paintings, mainly for watercolour.

Still in Central America (Oh don't you wish you were there too?!), another animal who lends their colour are the brine shrimps of the Yucatan region, in Mexico. Although their colour is not directly used in the arts, they do make for amazing wildlife photography and are responsible, in association with aqueous bacteria, for the coral colour of the Yucatan Flamingo’s feathers. Believe it or not, baby flamingos are actually grey!

Stay tuned…

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