Monday, January 19, 2009


WARNING: No Vermont Content!

I'm now in the Red chapter of Finlay's Color. So far I've restrained myself from writing about this book, but can't any longer. RED is my favorite color and I have a vivid memory involving red.

It was 1973 and I was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My roommate at the time was the daughter of Nobel Chemist R. B. Woodward. We got a call from him asking us to come down the lab. It was the day he had synthesized Vitamin B12. Of course the microscope was set up and we were invited to look through it. Well, I spent a long time looking because I knew he'd spent 12 years working on it. It was a crystalline structure of the most glorious and glowing red I'd ever seen. When I straightened up from the scope I said (of course knowing next to nothing about chemistry on any level, much less his), "Well, if I were an artist and had spent 12 years making this, I'd be happy."

I was startled when he slammed his fist on the desk and said, "That's right. There is NOTHING but science and art!"

He also had a fascination with dyes and, on one visit, talked extensively about indigo -- very little of which I understood, except that it had a long and interesting history. (Can't wait to get to that Finlay chapter!)

Woodward also, after asking for colored pencils one evening, scribbled a "test" on a blank sheet of paper. I've adapted it for the web here, but I suggest you make one on a piece of paper writing the words in the colors in the right hand column. You then ask the testee to run down the list, naming the colors on the piece of paper.


  1. The test is great. Its interesting that matching the colors is easier than the text. I think it might be even more challenging if the colors and the text were not complimentary, but were secondary... so 'green' is written in purple text, not red etc. Can you make another one that does that too? this is fun.

  2. Curtis--
    Get out your colored pencils! (or your paintbrush) On paper I've tried them in all sorts of combinations. For me, this version is the hardest.

    I expect different people react more quickly or slowly depending on the color/word combinations.

    (And to answer your question: yes I can, but I promise you it's not high on my list of things to do right now! lol)