ColorTherapy: Golden Colors of Tuscany

Note: for the month of August, Mark is off gathering new color insights in far away parts of the world. These are some of his favorite posts from last summer.

Brands to try: Fine Paints of Europe, Ralph Lauren

Someone once asked if I could write about the golden colors of the Tuscan landscape. Being somewhat partial to everything Italian, I decided to take up the challenge. Let's explore...

For starters, Italy is one of those places where light enters the world at a magical angle. I'll never forget the first time I arrived in Rome: a cab whisked me into the city at about 9am on a September morning, and the Colosseum was bathed in a golden misty sunshine like I'd never seen before. The whole country is like that, and that quality of light affects our perception of color on landscape and architecture.

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I have a few photos I've taken over the years that contain this golden hue, which I think are evocative of how light bounces off of Italian buildings. The first is from Turin, and I actually shot this in late autumn. The wall on the right is the most delicious harvest gold; the one on the upper left is like warm baked bread. My sense is that the colors Europeans use are more saturated, or colorful, than Americans are willing to use on their exteriors, more muted or less garish than we like on our interiors. Also, that's probably 200 years worth of soot on the wall, which is certainly adding to its character.

The second photo is of another hilltop in Turin; the third was taken in Florence and suggests a stately champagne beige. Since we're talking about a European sensibility, let's start with Fine Paints of Europe for possible color matches, because the colors they produce are so rich and complex. The following look like things I'd love to try: E5-30, E5-28, E6-45, E6-49, P08760.

I'll throw in a few Ralph Lauren colors for good measure. I've used Mango Gold VM34 more than once, always to good effect, though it feels mid-century American to me and doesn't quite fit my thesis here. I'm curious about this new color Cypress VM27--if anyone has tried it let me know. Also, for the person who wanted me to write a column on beige, this is the best I can do.

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

(ReEdited from 2007-01-30 - MC)
(ReEdited from 2007-09-04 - MGR)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.