The Origins Of Yellow
Supernova, the mag for curious kids|Volume 8 Issue 5
It’s not very hard to find the colour yellow all around us. Just take a look out the window and you’ll see flowers, insects and even our own clothing all brimming with this bright colour. But how did yellow come to feature in everyday life? That’s a story that starts far back in time.

Yellow in nature: Ochre

Nowadays, yellow isn’t just a colour used for decoration. It comes in a multitude of shades, from bright to light, and people use these to set a mood or depict certain emotions. But where did it all start? With yellow ochre. Known as an ‘earth pigment’, ochre is a natural mineral that is found in rocks or sand across the globe. It was among the first minerals used by humans.

Prehistory

Ancient peoples also seemed to paint their walls. One of the first cave paintings that uses yellow can be found in Lascaux, southwestern France. This cave painting of a horse is said to be around 17 300 years old!

How it’s made…

Prehistoric yellow paint was made with clay containing yellow ochre that was mixed with spit or animal fat to create a paste. This paste would vary in shades from yellow to brown depending on the sand.

The Renaissance

How it’s made...

In the 1500s, artists used oil paints, made by mixing yellow pigment made with yellow ochre, with linseed oil.

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