Summer ended with a golden kiss of promise. That kiss for the future was imbued in the ochre light of the autumn which was coming on.
Ochre like love is an ancient color and has been used by humans since the earliest of times. In a cave in northern Australia predating the caves of Lascaux yellow ocher was used. Since Neolithic times humans have made yellow to describe, and symbolize their days. In Pharonic Egypt, yellow was used to depict the sun, gold, and to differentiate the complexion of female from male in sarcophagi. In 2500 BC the Egyptians developed a yellow color called an orpiment a natural yellow pigment derived from arsenic sulfide. This wonderful warm dangerous golden tone was used by the Greeks and many other cultures. Cennino Cennini warned painters not to soil their tongues with this dangerous paint. Finally its use was banned in the 19th century. So then in trying to capture golden tones, Naples yellow, a color which contained lead was invented, Rubens used it when he painted fleshtones.
Venus at a Mirror, 1651, Liechtenstien
All over the world ancient peoples worked on capturing that golden glow. Cosmos and dahlias were used by the Aztecs to create a dye, Turkey used chamomile, western Africans the kola nut and golden rod was used by some native Americans. Then of course that essence from crocus pistils, saffron makes the most expensive yellow dye of all.
This color, yellow, which I associate with September and the heralding of fall in the Rocky Mountains,
Steamboat Spgs, Colorado, Fall 2009
is a color I will be watching as it unfolds in the topmost trees of our urban forest in Denver and reaches high to the tallest peaks of Colorado. What better way to herald the passing of the sun and its embrace of the land than in the golden warmth of young promise.