Earth color

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Paint pigments prepared by grinding native iron containing minerals. Earth colors generally contain a mixture of iron oxides and other materials such as Clay, Chalk, and Silica. The colors vary over the range from yellow, orange, red, brown, and black with each deposit having a unique color, composition, and working characteristics. Names for these colors include Ocher, Sienna, and Umber. Earth colors have been used since prehistoric times and are permanent in all techniques. Synthetic iron oxides, called Mars colors, have been produced since the late 18th century.

Synonyms and Related Terms

earth colors; earth pigments; earth colour (Br.); colores de tierras (Esp.); pigmentos de tierras (Esp.); terre colorée (Fr.); cor terra (Port.)

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996