Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”   Pedro calderon de la barca
Envy. Paradise. Money. Recycling. Gardening. Go! All of these are identified with the color green. Green symbolizes vitality, freshness, growth, wealth, balance, health and youthfulness. Nature’s greenery sustains life. Chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for this greenery, gets its name from the Greek words for green and leaf. And it is chlorophyll that produces the oxygen needed for much of creation to survive. Green is the essence of life.
The Statue of Liberty, an old penny and the dome of Glasgow’s Mitchell Library all share a green patina, the beautiful result of the exposure of copper, brass, bronze and similar metals to oxygen, water, carbon dioxide or sulfur. The chemical reaction produces a copper carbonate whose vivid color is similar to malachite, the coveted green mineral. This is no coincidence since malachite is made of copper carbonate.
For centuries, copper carbonate was intentionally produced and then scraped off to form the pigment known as verdigris. The Greeks hung copper sheets over vats of vinegar or wine to hasten the patina, which would then be scraped off. Verdigris’ beauty wasn't its only asset. The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians also availed themselves of its natural antibacterial properties to ward off infection.
During the Renaissance, as artists became concerned with painting realistic representations of the natural world around them, verdigris became an important pigment. Not only was it the most vibrant and stable of all green pigments used for painting, when combined with oil a chemical reaction occurred that turned it from an aqua green to a mossy grass green and then stabilize. Verdant, realistic nature came to life on the canvas. Unfortunately for painters who did not mix their verdigris with oil, another chemical change occurred. Over time, their beautiful green would turn to brown.
Painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, verdigris abounds in the frescos of Magi Chapel of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence, Italy.
The grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.
This is due to the fact that when you look down at the grass around you, you're close enough to see the details hiding in that green expanse — dirt, rocks, twigs, small flowers, leaves, bits of debris. Look across at your neighbor's yard, and you'll be viewing the grass not from above but from an angle. Optical laws remove all the extraneous matter from your sight, hence greener grass! So the next time the green-eyed monster takes hold of you, remember that your neighbor’s greener grass is just an illusion. (Or better fertilizer.)
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