Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sepia [see-pee-uh]

Sepia is a warm, reddish-brown or olive-brown color, named after and originally derived from the ink of the cuttlefish.  The cuttlefish, is a small cephalopod with an elongated body and tentacles around its mouth, capable of flashing bright, rapidly changing colors during mating and combat, and although reportedly color-blind, able to almost instantly change its skin color to match its surroundings (even in total darkness) through some mechanism that remains a mystery to scientists. 

Cuttlefish ink was used as a common writing ink during Greco-Roman times, and as an artist's drawing material until the 19th century.  Leonardo da Vinci, for example, used it to sketch, write, draw and make color washes Sepia is also the color of many old photographs, due to the way in which they were processed. And, on a slightly more unfortunate note, Wikipedia declares that during the 1940-50s era, R&B music was sometimes referred to as "race music" or "sepia music."

Sepia suggests warmth, nostalgia and vulnerability -- a quality most often supplied today by PhotoShop, not the cuttlefish. 

Here's some of my recent sepia music...

 Clarice, raised by crows, was ashamed of her human face.

Georgia's Manicure

Hollywood Anguish

Japan No. 25


  1. Thanks for the lesson on sepia -- I had no idea it was so old. I just learned about a new product called "Artist Vintage Medium," which gives black and white images a sepia tint. I'm guessing no cuttlefish were involved.

    I love all these pieces. Clarice and her crows are especially meaningful. I have a family (flock?) of crows living on my roof. When I climb the stairs to my front door, they peer down at me, hopefully happy that I'm home.

  2. Crows fascinate me, too...such clever, complicated birds!