Etymology Of A Color

En Plein Air, oil painting by Roger Vincent Jasaitis, copyright 2014,
En Plein Air
“I must have been 7 or 8, squatting on the summer-hot pavement with my sister, scrawling disappearing messages on the concrete with snapped leaves of an ice plant, when it occurred to me that people could agree on the name of a thing, in this case, a color — the green of the translucent fluid that oozed from the leaf, which we determined was chartreuse — while seeing it very differently. I understood that when my sister agreed on the name chartreuse, she might, in fact, be seeing what I call red or yellow or blue. I began to see language less as a bridge between people than as a threadbare rope tossed from one edge of a precipice to open hands at another.”
Allison Hoover Bartlett; An Ear For Color: Exploring the Curious World of Synesthesia, Where Senses Merge in Mysterious Ways; The Washington Post; Jan 22, 2002.
Chartreuse…this is an example of  the idea of color. But the color itself has always existed, you might say. Has it? Or has defining it given it meaning.
The word itself comes from the Chartruese Mountains in France. Monks of the Carthusian order built a monastery in these same mountains called La Grande Chartreuse. The monks then produced a liqueur that was of a certain greenish-yellow color. The liqueur came to be called Chartreuse. Finally, the color got its name from the liqueur.
This painting En Plein Air contains this color. Without the etymology we would have been linguistically poorer in describing the painting. This painting is a meditation on the act of painting out-of-doors. The recognition that nature is constantly changing and that the painting is a record of the process of trying to abstract a sense of the Spirit in nature. You can see a short video of the creation of this painting here.

One thought on “Etymology Of A Color

  1. onepresence 05/30/2013 / 7:05 pm

    I love your video, Roger. It’s great as a means to meditation too. The painting is beautiful.
    Thanks. Ginger

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