Getting geeky about colour

Helping you create a Kitchen Cupboard Paint shortlist


Pigment is a very small particle of coloured material that is mixed in with a binding medium.

Pigment gives paint its colour.

Every pigment has a backstory that firmly sets its place in history.


The pigment resources for the world is predominantly held at the Harvard Art Museums where Narayan Khandekar, Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies and Senior Conservation Scientist, shares the origins of the sources of pigment in his wonderful laboratory.


Edward Forbes, director of the Fogg Art Museum from 1909 to 1944, travelled across the globe to collect samples of different colours in order to preserve and authenticate artworks and paintings. The Forbes Pigment Collection, housed at Havard Art Museums now contains over 2,500 different specimens from ochres sourced from the ruins of ancient Pompeii to Day-Glo paints used in 20th-century Pop Art, dangerous materials like vermilion, and brand-new colours created only a few years ago.

In some instances still stored in the original glass vials, the pigments provide material which enables pigments in paintings to be identified for both restoration and conservation. Each pigment is documented and stored on a database which lists it's unique number, name or description of the source if it has no name and a list of resources.


The collection is being added to with modern pigments and binders, the ingredient in paint that allows pigment particles to stick to both each other and the canvas. Synthetic materials began to infiltrate the world of commercial paint production as early as the 1930s, and technological advancements in the following decades had only accelerated this trend. Artists soon began to incorporate these newly developed paints—often intended for houses or cars or boats, rather than art—into their work.


Director Narayan, while studying for his PhD, combined his passion for art with his natural ability for chemistry. This combination placed him perfectly for the scientific analysis of unknown colours, using spectrometry, gas chromatography and electron microscopy to determine the composition of unknown pigments.


The unique system for displaying the pigments, which can be seen through the glass wall of the analytical laboratory, places both the pigment samples and the raw material used to create them in a kind of opened-out colour wheel; not a rainbow, but a 19th-century version of colour theory.


In this short video, his passion for his craft is clear.


So why are colours so valuable?


Everything around us is coloured in some way.


Colours influence our mood and can make us feel loved or rejected, warm or cool, for example. Colours jog our memories and allow us easy self-expression. Muted green greys provide a spa-like tranquil vibe, sunkissed tans and soft pinks are an instant pick me up hue, and dark charcoals and blue-greys allow light to bounce and create shadow thereby creating a luxurious and sophisticated ambience.


Consider Tyrian Purple which originated from Bolinus brandaris Sea Snails, of which thousands were needed to obtain just an ounce of pigment which in turn after exposing to sunlight produced Imperial Purple, used on the Emperor's garments. This Imperial Purple colour then became an international symbol of wealth.

Think of Liberty London the iconic luxury store.


There are other stories of pigments having a lot of wealth associated with them.

Lapis lazuli; its only real source, until more recently, was Afghanistan. It had to be quarried and transported down to the coast, loaded onto a ship and then sent across to Europe, where it was ground up and turned into ultramarine blue — it means blue from beyond the sea.

People who wanted to prove their high position would commission an artists work and specify that they wanted it to include ultramarine. As expensive as gold, commissioned artists would have to put in a separate budget line, so they got paid in advance for that colour alone.



Cochineal; comes from an insect that grows on a cactus in Mexico, when it was found by the Spanish and imported to Europe, became a significant source of wealth.

It rivalled gold and silver in the Spanish Empire, vital for the success of their economy at the time.

It is now a mainstay of lipstick.




Colours tell your story too.


Your choice of Kitchen Cupboard Paint colour is thankfully limited to two dozen tried and tested hues.

My previous blog posts offer a source of inspiration for your cupboard colour choices, but perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the current trends and colour articles and simply cannot decide.

Whichever Kitchen Cupboard Paint colour first drew your eye is where you should confidently return, is my top advice. Then, if you want to add a bolder colour, a pop of your favourite contrasting colour onto other elements such as chairs and table legs will be effective.


If you are not so bold or your room is small, select a monotone scheme to keep your look streamlined and chic. Choose one colour choice only, but team it up with other items from the same colour that are different in tones, shades and tints, of that same colour.



The Kitchen Cupboard Paint colour palette has an array of tones and hues that have been tried and tested in a wide variety of kitchens and on freestanding furniture around the home. Within each colour on the website, you will find a resource palette to include accent colours for islands, furniture and or backboards and suggested room wall paint that will complement the painted cupboards.


After your Kitchen Cupboard Painting is complete, your cupboards will be wonderfully fresh and new once again and your kitchen space a desirable place to be within.


I hope that this blog helps you shortlist your colours effectively if not, do call me and I will help in any way.


Stay safe and please do keep following.

Best wishes from Charlotte

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