Paint Colors Inspired By Famous Literary Works

Paint Colors Inspired By Famous Literary Works

Two writers visualize the colors they see when reading descriptive prose and poetry.

Allie Walker
  • 11 may 2012

Writers have the special ability to conjure images in our heads, to bring descriptions of people and places to life by their choice of words. We can see what our favorite characters in a book are wearing, taste what they’re eating, and hear the sounds around them; we can, with our imaginations, visualize the entire world described in a book or poem.

Two writers, Leanne Shapton and Ben Schott, have translated their visualizations from popular literary works into art, creating ‘Prose Purple: Paint Samples Suitable for the Home, Sourced from Colors In Literature’ for the 200th edition of the Paris Review, a literary quarterly that focuses on original creative work.

Each ‘literary paint chip’ (84 in total) is named for the descriptive passage from where Shapton and Schott drew inspiration and is accompanied by the original text; readers can compare their own visualizations with Shapton’s and Schott’s- are these colors how you would have imagined them?

The color ‘Anne’s Shoes,’ for example, was inspired by this passage in Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl:

Everywhere I go, upstairs or down, they all cast admiring glances at my feet, which are adorned by a pair of exceptionally beautiful (for times like these!) shoes. Miep managed to snap them up for 27.50 guilders. Burgundy-colored suede and leather with medium-sized high heels. I feel as if I’m on stilts, and look even taller than I already am.

And ‘Gosling’ was taken from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web:

When the first gosling poked its gray-green head through the goose’s feathers and looked around, Charlotte spied it and made the announcement.

Scroll through all 84 paint chips online here and here.

The Paris Review


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