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Colours of May | Anita Pounder

1st May 2024 Estimated reading time: 4 mins

We are now entering the fifth month in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and as the proverb says, “April showers bring May flowers”. Nature is getting ready for the full bloom of the warmer summer months. When trying to decide on the colours of May I faced great difficulty in deciding, as nature is in full bloom and colours are starting to emerge everywhere. Greens are everywhere as the buds on the trees are opening, ready for the full leaved summer. I had to narrow it down to colours which represent the month of May for me, and these colours are Emerald Green and Sky Blue.

Colours of May: Emerald

According to tradition, Emerald is the Birth stone for May and the beautiful bluish green stone incorporates the rich strong green colour of the late spring.

Emeralds are a type of mineral beryl, coloured green by traces of Chromium and typically range from a deep-sea green to a Mid tone green, and they are often seen as symbols of fertility and rebirth. The Emerald green for me not only represents the Birthstone for May, but the exciting promise of the richness of the summer to come after it.

When researching about the colour Emerald, I discovered that the male Mallard duck, easily recognised for its Emerald green plumage on its head, will begin to moult in May. This means it will be the last month (until the Autumn) that you will see the male mallard sporting it’s bright iridescent plumage as it fades to a browner colour after May.

Emerald Mallard: Colours of May

Watch Anita paint a Mallard Duck using Winsor & Newton Drawing Ink here. 

Spring is the time for fertility and rebirth, and from the 1st of May it is time to celebrate May Day. This has a long history and originates in ancient European Pagan customs.

Halfway between the Spring equinox and Summer solstice, the old traditions of gathering of wild flowers and fresh greenery to be made into floral hoops, well dressings and garlands worn on the head have made their way into modern celebrations.

Dancing around the Maypole is still performed in villages across England and throughout Europe and European communities. The name for the month of May is derived from Latin word Maius which is thought to represent the Greek goddess of fertility Maia.

Lily of the Valley

The bounty of flowers during this month gives the name to the full moon, the Flower Moon which should be full on the 23rd May this year (2024). May has two flowers for the month. One is the Lilly of the Valley, with two broad oval leaves and tiny sweetly scented bell-shaped white petals. The Lily of the Valley can be given as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Lily of the Valley: Colours of May

Watch Anita paint a Lily of the Valley using Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolours here.

Hawthorn

The other Birth flower for May is the common Hawthorn, also known as Mayflower or Maythorn. For me, the promise of Summer is on the horizon with the days getting longer with clear blue skies, and a wonderful, sweet aroma fills the air, which reminds me of vanilla or ice-cream. The Hawthorn hedges begin to be covered in tiny white flowers, which are a symbol of hope are bursting into blossom.

The old English proverb “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” is thought to refer to the Hawthorn blossom being in flower, meaning that the weather can be unpredictable, and you should keep something warm with you even if the skies are blue. You should wait until the Hawthorn is in full bloom, and then the weather may become brighter.

You can watch Anita paint a Hawthorn using Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache here.

Colours of May: Sky Blue

This brings us to my second of the 2 colours of May, Sky Blue, which is a term that incorporates a range of blues, but for me it is the clear fresh colour of a Spring sky in May after the traditionally wet and showery of the month of April. The blue of the sky and the warmth of the sun brings me much joy after the colder and wetter months prior.

Hawthorn: Colours of May

You can find everything you need to create with the colours of May with the SAA.

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