Colour & Language Explorations

A series of supporting investigations, each taking a different approach to examining the relationship between colour and language.

All of the books in the series are available to view as PDFs below, or alternatively can be viewed as online publications by visiting my profile on

Essays on Colour

A compilation of essays, originally published in Cabinet magazine. For every issue of the quarterly culture journal the editors invite one of their regular contributors to write about a given colour in their regular Colours Column. This book presents the complete set of essays from issues 1-42, printed in the colour they discuss, as a way of illustrating the diversity in the ways we write about colour.

Essays on Colour Analysis

An extension of Essays on Colour, Essays on Colour Analysis uses a number of techniques to analyse the frequency and distribution of colour terms within the essays published as Cabinet Magazine’s Colours Column. This analysis has been presented using a variety of information design techniques and offer an insight into how colour terms are used in this particular instance of discussing colour.

Strooping the Colour

An examination of the Stroop Effect, a psychological phenomenon identified in 1935 by John Ridley Stroop. It refers to the delay in naming words that are printed in a different colour to the one that they identify. The book explores how the relative sophistication or obscurity of a colour term might influence the Stroop effect.

Colour by Numbers

Colour by numbers uses to analyse the frequency of colour term use within our language. Wordcount ranks words according to how frequently they are used within English. Using these rankings I was able to show the most and least used colour terms along a scale of 86,800 words.

Colour my Words

Colour terms are widely used in everyday phrases. Though not exhaustive, this book is an extensive compilation of phrases, idioms and clichés that incorporate a colour term. The terms are grouped by colour and indexed alphabetically at the back.

When Green is not Green

A presentation of all the Pantone Matching System colours that contain high levels of hazardous metals including barium and copper.

Deconstructing the Rainbow

Colour is a continuum and only broken down into ‘colours’ by the categories we create with language. disagreements over labelling colours often occur where one colour merges into another, for example when does green become blue? To analyse this process a series of coloured gradients were broken down into stages as a way of better understanding how colours change from one to another.

Say What You See

Of the many colour terms we have in our language the majority are descriptive, rather than abstract, and come from other objects in the world around us. This book uses photography to remind us of the connection between the words we use and the colours we see.

Searching for the Rainbow

As a generative approach, this book presents results of Google Image searches using the eleven basic colour terms. The results represent a cumulative understanding of each colour term. A series of digital process were then applied to each image to demonstrate how the colours in the image alter as they converge.

Transforming the Rainbow

A development of Searching for the Rainbow, this book takes the images resulting from the Google Image Searches and extends the process with further digital manipulation and transparent layering.

Looking for Hue

In addition to the eleven basic colour terms, more sophisticated colour terms were also used to generate results from Google Image Search. The range of images produced demonstrates the visual similarities between different colour terms and the variation that can occur in results from the same colour term.

One comment

  1. Hi Eleanor, so interesting to read about your work!: take a look,

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