“As a child when I lived in a small village in Spain, I always walked barefoot. The ground was dusty, and when I walked, my feet picked up the fine dust. They were coated with a dull layer of film, the colour of fog, like the feet of a plaster statue” — is how author and illustrator Sophie Benini Pietromarchi describes colours to her readers in her recently released, The Colour Book.
One of book’s sections collates objects that represent a colour. The author calls it our very own forest of colour
Known for an unusual approach, Pietromarchi opens up the world of colours sometimes as feelings, as characters (The Red Dragon) or our everyday surroundings. Speaking on this dream-like tack, we quizzed her how she managed to write the book after all. She shares, “I had to understand deeply what colour is for me. I read many books on the theory of colour or about painters on colour, I took notes on authors who write about colour. But I had to start from scratch and talk about colour as a discovery, as experimentation, as rebellion, the colour, the stain, the cleanliness, mixing it all up, the magic potion, all of the stages of childhood that are the first steps towards colour.” She goes on to add that she understood that she could only make experiments with colour, and started from there, with the aim of giving not only technical elements but especially to give the sense of colour.
The book includes a warm and fuzzy tone that lets the reader into her personal life making the exercise of defining colour very difficult, something she readily agrees upon. Calling it “undefinable”, she highlights how it is a highly unique thing. “It is in all things, it changes all the time and nobody sees it in the same way. It can be found in a word, in an emotion. The good thing about colour is that you can not only contemplate it, observe it, but you can also recreate it, you have the power of recreating whole atmospheres with colour.”
The Colour Book can almost be called a magical expedition as Pietromarchi discovered that “children pour in all their creativity and exceed their own talents and they are all surprising.” She continues, “I can tell you that in the very first workshop I taught following The Colour Book, it was decidedly unexpected, I would have never thought it could be so effective. There was certain magic in creating unique colours, as a magic potion. And everyone left with their own secret under their arm: a book of words and colours.”