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A Deep Orange Like Blue Olive Is A Retiring Colour The Most So Of

all the colours, being the penultimate of the scale, or nearest of all
in relation to black, and last, theoretically, of the regular
distinctions of colours. Hence its importance in nature and painting is
almost as great as that of black; it divides the office of clothing the
face of creation with green and blue; with both which, as with black and
grey, it enters into innumerable compounds and accordances, changing its
name as either hue prevails, into green, gray, ashen, slate, &c. Thus
the olive hues of foliage are called green, and the purple hues of
clouds are called gray, &c.; but such terms are general only, and
unequal to the infinite particularity of nature.

This infinity, or endless variation of hue, tint, and relation, of which
the tertiaries are susceptible, gives a boundless license to the revelry
of taste, in which the genius of the pencil may display the most
captivating harmonies of colouring, and the most chaste and delicate
expressions; too subtle to be defined, too intricate to be easily
understood, and often too exquisite to be felt by the untutored eye.
Nature always melodizes by imperceptible gradations, while she
harmonizes by distinct contrasts. At different seasons we have blossoms
of all hues, variously subordinated; and when the time of flowers may be
considered past, as if she had no further use for her fine colours, or
were willing to display her ultimate skill and refinement, Nature
lavishes the contents of her palette, not disorderly, but in multiplied
relations, over all vegetal creation, in those rich and beautiful
accordances of broken and finishing colours with which autumn is
decorated ere the year decays and sinks into olive darkness.

As a rule, no colour exists in nature without gradation, which is to
colours what curvature is to lines. The difference in mere beauty
between a gradated and ungradated colour may be seen by laying an even
tint of rose-colour on paper, and putting a rose leaf beside it. The
victorious beauty of the rose, as compared with other flowers, depends
wholly on the delicacy and quantity of its colour gradations, all other
flowers being either less rich in gradation, not having so many folds of
leaf; or less tender, being patched and veined instead of flushed. It is
not enough, however, that colour should be gradated in painting by being
made simply paler or darker at one place than another. Generally, colour
changes as it diminishes, and is not only darker at one spot, but also
purer at one spot than elsewhere; although it does not follow that
either the darkest or the lightest spot should be the purest. Very often
the two gradations more or less cross each other, one passing in one
direction from paleness to darkness, another in another direction from
purity to dulness; but there will almost always be both of them, however
reconciled. Hence, every piece of blue, say, laid on should be quite
pure only at some given spot, from which it must be gradated into blue
less pure--greyish blue, or greenish blue, or purplish blue--over all
the rest of the space it occupies. In Turner's largest oil pictures,
there is not one spot of colour as large as a grain of wheat ungradated;
and it will be found in practice that brilliancy of hue, vigour of
light, and even the aspect of transparency in shade, are essentially
dependent on this character alone; hardness, coldness, and opacity,
resulting far more from equality of colour than from nature of colour.
Given some mud off a city crossing, some ochre out of a gravel pit, a
little whitening, and some coal-dust, and a luminous picture might be
painted, if time were allowed to gradate the mud, and subdue the dust.
But not with the red of the ruby, the blue of the gentian, snow for the
light, and amber for the gold, could such a picture be produced, if the
masses of those colours were kept unbroken in purity, and unvarying in

Olive being usually a compound colour both with the artist and mechanic,
there are few olive pigments in commerce.


may be compounded in several ways; directly, by mixing green and purple;
or indirectly, by adding to blue a smaller proportion of yellow and red,
or by breaking much blue with little orange. Cool black pigments,
combined with yellow ochre, afford eligible olives; hues which are

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