Beautiful Green

As today is St. Patrick’s Day it has me thinking about the color green. It’s not my favorite color but I do love nature where it’s everywhere, some people wear it very well and when it comes to interiors it has a quiet, moody feel about it. So I guess it all depends on the context in which it’s used. As I researched the color I came upon some beautiful renditions. Happy St. Patrick’s day to all who celebrate. For those who don’t, enjoy some fun trivia about Green.

The Meanings of Green
Since the beginning of time, green has signified growth, rebirth, and fertility. In pagan times, there was the “Green Man” – a symbol of fertility.  In Muslim countries, it is a holy color and in Ireland, a lucky color. It was the color of the heavens in the Ming Dynasty.

Today’s greens can be found in a wide range of objects: pea soup, delicate celadon glazes, emeralds, wasabi, and sage. The English language reflects some strange attributes: Would you rather be green with envy, green behind the ears, or green around the gills?

Global Meaning of Green

  • Green is universally associated with nature.
  • Green symbolizes ecology and the environment.
  • Traffic lights are green all over the world.
  • In China, Green may symbolize infidelity. A green hat symbolizes that a man’s wife is cheating on him.
  • In Israel, green may symbolize bad news.
  • In Japan, the words for blue and green (ao) are the same.
  • In Spain, racy jokes are “green.”

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
by Jan Van Eyck , 1434
The bride in this Renaissance masterpiece wears green as a symbol of her fertility. She is slouching in imitation of pregnancy, thus indicating her willingness to bear children.

In Celtic myths the Green man was the God of fertility.
Later in the millennium, Early Christians banned green because it had been used in pagan ceremonies.
Nevertheless, as evidenced by Van Eyck’s 15th Century wedding portrait, the color green was the best choice for the bride’s gown because of its earliest symbolism.

Of note is the continued symbolism attached to the color in the latter part of this century. Anyone who chooses a green m & m (an American candy which contains an assortment of different colored chocolate sweets) is sending a somewhat similar message. Green has been reinterpreted by late 20th century American culture to signify a state of heightened sexuality in this specific situation.

green pigment

Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435
Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435

velvet sofa1
Beautiful green velvet furniture
adds a quiet moodiness and softness
to a room.

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Some people wear green very well

green 2
…even in nature

Beautiful Green

Playing with my iPhone camera I shot the grass below me in motion.
It got me thinking about the history and meaning of colors.

green grass
Grass in motion: Emerald Green

History of the Color Green

The word green is closely related to the Old English verb growan, “to grow.” Green is the color of life. It is the color of seasonal renewal. Since verdant spring triumphs over barren winter, green symbolizes hope and immortality. The Chinese associate green (and black) with the female Yin – the passive and receiving principle. Islam venerates the color green, expecting paradise to be full of lush vegetation. Green is also associated with regeneration, fertility, and rebirth due to its connections with nature.

In some cultures, green symbolizes hope and growth, while in others, it is associated with death, sickness, or the devil. It can also describe someone who is inexperienced, jealous, or sick.

Water-Lilies-and-Japanese-Bridge-(1897-1899)-Monet
Monet’s Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge, 1897-1899

History of Green Pigments

In painting (substructive color system), green is not a primary color, but is created by mixing yellow and blue. Green pigments have been used since Antiquity, both in the form of natural earth and malachite, used primarily by Egyptians. Greeks introduced verdigris, one of the first artificial pigments. Copper resinate was introduced in European 15th century easel panting, but was soon discarded. Thanks to chemistry, a new generation of greens was introduced beginning in the late 18th century: cobalt green, emerald green, and viridian.

The Impressionists revived the use of the color green. The depiction of the green color of nature was revived in Impressionism partly because of the advent of tubes for pigments, which made it possible to paint on location, and partly thanks to the manufacture of new and brighter green pigments. In his painting “The Japanese Bridge,” 1899, Monet uses the color of hope together with the symbol of a bridge. The bridge stands for the uniting of people and revives hope for a peaceful future. Incidentally, Monet’s use of Emerald Green pigment, which contained arsenic, may have contributed to his blindness in later life.

Sources: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/greens.html