an insight into naming paint colours

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Colour and Paint - Royal Academy - Will Alsop range

Back in early March I had the opportunity to fulfil one of my bucket list dreams – naming paint colours. I was invited by Bill Wallsgrove from Colour & Paint to join him on naming a new paint range from architect and artist Will Alsop OBE RA as part of the Colour & Paint Royal Academy collection.

Given Will spends much of his free time at his home in Norfolk where he loves to paint, what better way to express this than Will choosing his favourite colours of Norfolk and giving them names that hold a very special meaning to him. I’m still to visit Norfolk but when Will was sharing his stories with us and we were discussing the names I felt I like was being transported there.

Listening to Will he clearly loves the Norfolk coastline, countryside, seaside towns and villages.

An insight into naming paint colours - Session with Will Alsop - the colours

Starting with the colours and listening to Will’s stories and memories that inspired each of the paint names.


the story  behind the names
Here are just a few of the paint names we came up which were inspired by Will’s wonderful stories of Norfolk.

Samphire, a soft green, is named in honour of this local delicacy which can be found growing wild.

Norfolk’s coastal pine forests are represented by the rich deep green shade of Norfolk Pine.

The Happisburgh Lighthouse is a distinctive architectural feature of the Norfolk coastline and its striking red bands are the inspiration for a red shade of the same name.

Another nod to architecture is to be found in the green of Patinated Copper: the green shade that copper turns once exposed to the elements.

Will’s favourite scarf has also found its place in his palette as a bold orange shade named simply Alsop Scarf.

An insight into naming paint colours - Royal Academy - Will Alsop wearing his orange scarf

Here is Will modelling the scarf that inspired the bold orange in his paint range.


And here is the end result. The Will Alsop RA paint range inspired by the man-made and natural features of Norfolk’s coastline.

Colour and Paint - Royal Academy - Will Alsop range

The Will Alsop paint colours and names in their full glory.


It’s hard to pick a favourite… I love Salthouse sea and Samphire. What are your favourites?

I had such a fabulous time working on this project. Another tick off my colour bucket list. And adding a trip to Norfolk and following the Will Alsop paint names tourist trail on!

Source and to find out more about Will Alsop OBE RA:

To see all the Royal Academy collections

Photography: Colour & Paint, Karen Haller, Will Alsop


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