I was looking for a book about horse breeds but didn’t find anything helpful. Most were for children. But I saw Horse Color Explored: Over 150 Breeds, Types, and Variations, by Vera Kurskaya (2017) and that piqued my interest. I was interested in knowing more about the genetics of horse colors than I’d read about in the ever-informative Equus magazine.
I was not disappointed. The book was originally in Russian, but the translator, Dr. Michal Prochazka, did a great job making the book read well. I enjoyed reading about the research Kurskaya has done. She must be a neat person to know, judging from her writing style.
The book is beautiful, with hundreds of great photos of horses from all around the world. I learned much about Russian breeds, but she also shared many interesting tidbits about horses from here, Europe, and Asia.
Here are a few random things I learned from this book:
Bay is the most common color (Apache is a bay Paint, and Mabel is a dark bay)
Like dogs, there is no true albino horse, just horses with giant white spots.
Gray horses change color (dark to light) at different rates. Homozygous ones change faster than heterozygous ones. (Droodles was originally bay, judging from his mane, tail, and body hair.)
Palominos are diluted buckskins. (Dusty is a buckskin.)
There’s no conclusive research to show temperament and color correlate. So, relax, red mares.
Appaloosas often have sparse manes and tails. Their genes are complicated. They also have striped feet.
Bay dun horses are closest to the “wild” type of horse. It blends in well with savannas.
All the dilute color genes (Cream, Pearl, Champagne) were discovered recently. They may be recent mutations or hid before.
Anyway, this is of limited interest to most folks, but if you like genetics or horses, check it out!
This is the fourth book in the series of books by Michel Pastoureau that detail how colors have been perceived and used through European history that I’ve read. It’s convenient that I was reading this along with the Greenlights book, which has all the green print and green pages. I find the color series really interesting and entertaining, so if you like colors, check outGreen: The History of a Color. A lot of what I learned surprised me.
You do begin to feel sorry for green, like you did poor yellow in the book I read most recently. It really didn’t get much mention in historical texts, and wasn’t even used in paintings for a long time. One reason was that it has always been difficult to get a green dye that wasn’t made of copper or arsenic or some other poisonous substance. The safe ones were pretty dull. Another was that people just didn’t divide things into colors the way we do now, so a lot of what we would call green was blue or brown to the eyes of people in the past.
Then, poor ole green had a bad reputation of being a color of evil, deceit, and treachery (green knights were never up to any good), unless they were very young men, who were “green” in the untested sense. As time went on, it came to symbolize young love (not necessarily faithful love), peace, and fairy folk.
People just didn’t like to wear it, other than a few brief fads where various rulers decided green was their color. Then the sickness came…apparently from covering walls with paint and wallpaper that was green. Some even think that’s what actually got Napoleon.
Green and nature do go hand in hand, though, so there is a lot of green in landscapes and such. A lot of it wasn’t very stable, though, so some landscapes that look brown were once green. And natural objects like the sky, sea, lakes, and rivers were often painted green, not blue. I found that interesting.
Since this book dealt primarily with European history, Pastoureau didn’t bring up the color green in other parts of the world. From my studies, I know that Japanese didn’t have a word for green for a long time; aoi meant both blue and green. And the number of colors languages distinguish vary from three to dozens. It just depends on what’s important in a society. For Europeans, Pastoureau notes that texture and other tactile features were more important than color in describing objects (also, apparently in the Middle East when people were writing Biblical passages), which I found pretty interesting.
In addition to all the history stuff, the illustrations in the Green book are just as gorgeous as in the others in the series. These are majorly great coffee-table books (in fact, mine are on the coffee table!) and they are just fun to page through.
Your friends will be green with envy if you display this one, with that fine smoking Jane Fonda on the cover!
One of the things I would like to do this year is change the color of my bedroom at the Hermits’ Rest. It is a shade of chocolate brown that I chose in hopes of making the immense room look more cozy. Here’s a picture of Harvey looking like he’s calling a meeting to order, which shows the color.
What I didn’t do when I chose the color, was compare it to the color of the floor, doors, cabinetry, and trim, which are a currently unfashionable cherry stain. The wall color is more of a “bluish” brown and looks sorta sick to me. (I do not care if cherry and reddish wood tones are not in fashion. They will probably come back into fashion again before I die, knowing how things cycle.)
Plus, this is MY house, it’s a ranch house, and the color looks nice and rustic to me. We’re never moving from here, so resale value can be something my heirs deal with as they rush to sell our hayseed property as fast as their urban-living selves can do it.
I must admit, though, that while I take lots of pictures of things I like (my office, plants, dogs, chickens, horses, renovations), I do NOT take many pictures of my bedroom. I used to not like the furniture or the arrangement, but I like it a bit better now. That said, I haven’t taken a photo of the room in a long time, other than these images of a lamp and dogs.
So, What New Color?
I want to repaint the room, or at least most of it. I’d like a deep or saturated color, to keep the room feeling warm, and contrast with the light-colored furniture that’s there, under dog-proofing. I don’t need to match curtains, since there are only prayer flags, and I always buy inexpensive bed covers, due to dogs and their propensity to ruin things with their toenails. So, I can get another color.
Our rugs are maroon and brown, which are the exciting theme colors from before. Right now those seem really gloomy to me. We can use them elsewhere, like in the office building, and get happier ones.
Here Are Ideas I Have:
Turquoise: that frightens Lee
Robins-egg blue: that would let us keep one wall brown (probably behind the bed), since that color goes well with brown.
Coral or terra cotta: I like orange, and these are less scary versions of orange.
Sage green: I love this color, but I have enough of it already.
Buttery yellow: that’s the color of my bedroom in Austin, and I love it (and it has a contrasting milk-chocolatey brown wall that I also want to change. I must have been in a brown period 5 years ago.
Colors to Avoid
Red: my favorite color, but not good in a bedroom. Ditto maroon.
Pink: I think Lee would go all sexist on that, plus I only like a few shades of pink, myself.
Blue other than the two shades mentioned above. I’m not fond of blue.
Black: Yuck. I don’t care how trendy it is.
White: Nope. Too sterile.
Gray: A warm gray might be okay, but I have painted so many rooms gray lately that I’m tired of it.
Tan: the whole rest of the damned house is tan.
So, what shades have I not thought of? And yes, I would LOVE wallpaper, but we would have to re-texture the walls. That costs money, and people starting a new business generally don’t spend money on things like that until there is profit to be had!
I talked earlier about how fond I am of the color red and how much I enjoyed the session on cochineal, a red dye, last week. So, naturally, the first of the series of color books by Michel Pastoureau I just got that I’m going to report on is Red: The History of a Color.
The quality of this book is drool-worthy. Each book in the series is hefty and dense. The paper for the pages is so thick, and the printing is sublime. The illustrations are so interesting that I’ll go back to this book over and over.
While I did get lost in the photos, I also learned a lot about how red figured throughout European history. It was the most important color up until the last few centuries, when blue took over. Boo, blue (I guess I’ll be more on Team Blue when I read the blue volume).
The author teaches us a lot about how color has been perceived by humans, which I learned from earlier color books, but the focus on red and how it was perceived earlier than colors other than black and white made the history pretty memorable. it turns out names for many colors show up quite late, as the chapter on pink showed.
I enjoyed learning a lot about how people dressed through European history, and not just the royalty and rich people. Peasants always liked red!
Any book in this series would be a nice gift for an artsy or crafty friend. A high-quality book on your favorite color that’s also a work of art in itself—what’s not to love? And red’s the color of love!
Well, shoot, just when I was really getting into long walks and frolicking amid the wildflowers, a late cold front has driven me indoors. Yesterday, we hosted an event at 11 am at our office. The front showed up right as all the attendees were coming in or trying to find us. A big wind and brief rain surprised everyone, and blew away my meeting signs. March decided not to go out like a lamb after all!
But, I did get a lot of flower-viewing, pet walking, and iNaturalist uploading done before the front! It’s a great year for flowers, thanks to the winter rains, so I know I’ll be out finding more to share soon.
Here’s something I’ve been grappling with lately. Many of the flowers that are blooming right now are yellow. They’re just beautiful, but when I try to photograph them, they are all washed out, making it hard to see details. Luckily, the collard greens I let go to seed (I ate off this ONE plant all winter) look pretty good. Perhaps the blue sky helped.
But this ragwort, like many other yellow ones I’ve photographed, looks like a bright blur. I have tried adjusting the color on my phone, but no luck. Suggestions? Get a real camera! Yes, I know.
I’m looking forward to warmer weather soon. I know the dogs are, too. Alfred had a fine time yachting around in the pond on Friday, but I don’t think he’ll try today!
Take care, friends, and don’t forget to like, share, and comment!