04 Sep 2023

Lurid Chartreuse Zomp

Q. Before paint companies stormed into the colour invention business, how did some of the more unusual shades get their names? . A. One person’s turquoise is another person’s … You’ll find much debate around the precise qualities of any one colour, but these colour circles should at least get

31 Aug 2023

Three Bee Words

Q. Year after year, we get a chance to marvel at the wunderkinds who hammer out the spelling of words most of us have never heard. Yttriferous? Devastavit? What on earth do these words mean? .. A. We can start with 12 of the most difficult category of words – the

28 Aug 2023

Yes To Black Forest Cake

Q. Chocolate, sour cherries, sponge cake, kirsch, whipping cream, dark chocolate curls. What’s not to like? What inspired this deliciousness? . A. Black Forest cake – or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte –   gets its name from Schwarzwälder Kirsch, a sour cherry liqueur distilled in Germany. Some say that the inspiration for this 16th

25 Aug 2023

It’ll Be Mother

Q. What hidden truths would come out if you painted your mother? Or another key person who raised you?  Which period of their life would you choose? Which facial features would you consciously, or unconsciously, emphasize? What did these artists see and learn about themselves in painting their mothers? .

21 Aug 2023

Mob Bosses, Evil Twins + Rampant Amnesia

Q. Snooty CEO Ned Quartermaine of the Quartermaines slipped poolside, smacked his head, and passed out. Would he wake up from the medically-induced coma that followed? Yes. Would he be himself? Of course not. When Ned’s eyes blinked open, he was his long-snuffed, 80s rocker alter ego: Eddie Quartermaine. It’s

19 Aug 2023

Kandinsky’s Circles

Q. Why did the remarkable Kandinsky so favour circles? . A. Well, Vasiliy Vasilyevich Kandinskiy (1866-1944) was also a prolific writer, so he serves up his own answers. In a 1930 letter to art critic and historian Will Grohmann, Kandinsky wrote: ‘Why does the circle fascinate me? It is (1)

15 Aug 2023

Too Hot, Need Words

Q. What are some forgotten or little-used words relevant to hot, hot weather? You know, just in case anyone should be experiencing such a thing. . A. Apricate To luxuriate in the hot sun. Are we luxuriating yet? Besweat To drench in sweat. Caldarium The hottest room in Roman baths.

13 Aug 2023

Painting Hummingbirds

Q. They are the most intriguing birds, with their Formula 1 wings, Mr Fantastic tongues, and iridescent protein feathers.  Who are some artists who have worked to capture hummingbird beauty on canvas? . A. American painter and naturalist Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) was one. Heade was utterly taken with these tinkerbirds,

11 Aug 2023

Bake, Read, Hike, Repeat

Q. Sometimes we get so busy with the this and the that – the work, the chores, the cleaning – that we forget to eke out time for the stress-releasing hobbies we love. What are your favourite hobbies? What hobbies are most popular in North America? . A. In 2023,

09 Aug 2023

Egg On One’s Floor

Q. As you walk, bike or drive your eggs home from the grocery store, aren’t you glad they’re not in a basket? Watch out for the… pot hole. Shoppers of yore didn’t ‘put all their eggs in one basket’ for good reason. Who can we thank for inventing the egg