Pink as a color and name is derived from Dianthus plumarius, a flower that's a pale tint of red. Pink was first used as a color name in the late 17th century, although the color has been described in literature as old as Homer's Odyssey.
Through the centuries, the color pink has come to symbolize many things, including both masculinity and femininity.
As an artist, it's important to understand this gentle color, how it's used in the past until today, what it means and the different emotions it evokes, as well as its different shades, and how to produce them.
This article aims to help you do just that.
A Brief History of the Color Pink
Unlike the previous colors in this series of articles, the color pink wasn't used in prehistoric or even in ancient art.
This color was described in Homer's Odyssey where Homer wrote:
"Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered dawn appeared…"
Pink was also a rare color when it came to fashion since nobles of Medieval times preferred brighter and more vivid colors like red and crimson. Pink was more commonly worn by women and in religious art such as the garments worn by the Christ child.
During the Renaissance, pink was commonly used when painting the flesh color of hands and faces. A mixture of sinopia, a red earth pigment, or Venetian red, and a white pigment called Bianco San Genovese, or lime white produced the pigment called light cinabrese.
Pink reached the peak of popularity during the 18th century when pastel colors were all the rage among the courts of Europe. During this period, pink became the color of both seduction as well as innocence.
In the 19th century, pink became a masculine color. Pink ribbons or decorations were often worn by young boys. Young boys would also wear pink uniforms while adult men wore red.
Pink continued being a masculine color until the 20th century when Mamie Eisenhower – the wife of then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower – wore a pink dress as her inaugural gown. Mamie's affinity for pink caused the color to be associated with "ladylike women wear". This association with femininity would later be cemented in 1957 by the American musical Funny Face.
It was also during this century when pink colors became bolder, brighter, and more assertive due to the invention of chemical dyes that never faded. Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian surrealist designer who invented this chemical dye, mixed magenta with a small amount of white to create a variety of colors called shocking pink.
Pink Colors: Psychology and Meaning
Despite its relatively recent use in art and fashion, people have associated the color pink with many things.
In Europe and the United States, pink represents charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, softness, childhood, romance, and femininity. The last one, in particular, may be why the color is mostly preferred by women instead of men.
Individuals who favored the color pink are believed to be loving, kind, sensitive, and usually have a strong nurturing and sensual side.
The Holy Bible associates the color pink with healthy flesh, new life, heavenly care, femininity, and the rose of Sharon.
In some European countries and the United States, pink is also associated with homosexuality with a pink flag used as a symbol to support LGBT civil rights and often stands for queer anarchism.
Shades of Pink
Now that we've discussed the color pink’s history and symbolism, let's move on to its various shades.
As of writing this article, pink has 55 different shades. These include the following:
1. Hot Pink
Hot pink has a vivid purplish-red color.
This web color is used for the pink triangle, a symbol of gay pride and gay rights since the early 1970s.
2. Champagne Pink
Champagne pink is a yellowish-white shade of pink. This color originated from the "Pantone Textile Paper eXtended (TPX)" color list, color #12-1107 TPX—Champagne Pink.
3. Fairy Tale
Fairy tale is a pale purplish-pink color.
This color was made to represent the typical fairy outfits in fiction.
4. Cherry Blossom Pink
Cherry blossom pink has a moderate pink color. The first recorded use of this name in English was in 1867. It's made to represent the cherry blossoms of Japan.
5. Shocking Pink
Shocking pink is characterized by its vivid reddish-purple color. This bold and intense color takes its name from the lettering on the box of the perfume called Shocking, designed by Leonor Fini for the Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937.
6. Barbie Pink
Barbie pink has a vivid purplish-red color. If you couldn't guess from the name, this shade of pink (Pantone 219C) is the color used by Mattel's Barbie in logos, packaging, and promotional materials.
7. Bubblegum Pink
Bubblegum pink is a vivid purple color.
This color is actually a deep tone of magenta.
Modifying Pink Acrylic Paints
Now that you have a deeper understanding of the color pink and some of its shades, it's time to learn how to make some of your own. As artists, we usually look for the right shade of color to really make our painting pop.
If you don't happen to have the exact shade you need, here's how you can modify your pink acrylic paint to achieve your desired shade.
How to Create Warmer Shades of Pink
How to Create Cooler Pink Shades
To give pink a cooler shade, just mix in some blue.
How to Mute Pink Colors