Vert de Gris – an Ode to Belgium

For my first article on Sensational Color, I’ve decided to write about what I know best and love most – the colors of Belgium, my little country.

It is not easy reducing a country to one color. However there is a palette that defines this low land and its quiet nostalgic beauty; Vert de Gris.

vert de gris color schemeIn French, Vert de Gris literally means green of gray – but more generally, it has come to describe a grayish/greensish/bluesh deposit that forms on copper, brass or bronze surfaces (it is also a poison).
bronze statue in BelgiumThis nuanced color includes combinations of many shades ranging from mossy grays, to silvery greens and steely blues – hues that fit Belgium’s heavy rainy skies and landscapes of green.
fields in BelgiumQuite naturally, these palettes are reflected in architecture and urban landscapes.
BRUGGECombinations of gray and green thread through time; on doors of Medieval walls and entrances to Baroque door in Belgium

During the Art Nouveau period, when industry and nature were celebrated, green and gray were particularly popular;Building in Belgium

Art-door-Belgium And today, in Brussels, these colors continue to grace busy streets. (Belgium is the capital of comic strips or “BD” which decorate many city walls as murals – this one is a Belgian version of Edward Hopper’s “ Nighthawks”)Belgium BRXLI have even spotted Vert de Gris combinations in the port of Antwerp
Green boat in Belgiumand on a more romantic scale in my neighborhood flea market.
Green at a flea market in BelgiumTo me, these colors spell “home” and are as soothing, poetic and comforting as a gentle rainy day.A color scheme of vert de gris
Avid travelers and color lovers will be charmed by Belgium’s color palettes… and the beer and chocolate!

About Michele: Like poetry, color feeds my spirit; it sings soothing little ballads but also shouts overwhelming and inspiring speeches. It is a constant companion, a lover – filling my canvases, guiding my lens, and pours from my pen. As a driven apostle, I want to share its beauty and power.  You can see more from Michele at

11 Responses to “Vert de Gris – an Ode to Belgium”

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  1. Hello, Love this blog…you might like mine as well.


  2. Carole says:

    This brought back wonderful memories of visits to Belgium. I live in the bright clear color so naturally love to think of the opposite. Thank you for this writing.

  3. Agi says:

    What a wonderful and poetic description of this lowland country. Being so small it is ignored by many tourists ‘doing Europe’ but it has so much to offer to the discriminating traveler. Bravo for a great blog using color as a key to unlock the beauty and appeal of Belgium.

  4. Donna Frasca says:

    Michelle from Color Buzz? Nice, now I can enjoy your posts from two blogs : -)

    I LOVE this color palette. It reminds me of the coastal colors that I love so much. Seriously would like to put them in my own home but I would have to do a 180 in everything! Pretty post.

  5. Julie says:

    Wow, Belgium is so pretty. Great pictures and beautifully written post Michele! A beautiful palette, great beer and chocolate- sounds like my kind of country!

  6. michele says:

    Thank you for all the kind comments – why not come to Belgium and I will give you a tour?

  7. Snoopy Gates says:

    Michelle ma Belle!
    Tu es geniale comme d’hab! Comme tu dis bien les choses de notre beau pays.

    In English for the rest of the world:

    You are a genious as usual. You have such a wonderful way to describe our beautiful country.

  8. Kathryn Fenner says:

    Aw, c’mon, Agi–”If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” was the title of a popular book and movie in the 60s!

    Theses colors would also look lovely with Belgian lace….

    I think Carole may be onto something, though–the quality of the light in an environment affects how you will like a set of colors–these are so beautiful, but I wonder how they would fare in my sunny southern US city?

  9. Alan says:

    I would like to know how to make vert-de-gris Paint.Can you help me to find the recipe.


  10. michele says:

    Hi Alan,

    The best way to recreate a “vert-de-gris” effect is to work with layers: thin uneven layers of grays and greens – each letting the previous one appear – If you are using acrylics, liquid glazes might be helpful – with oils, splash lots turpentine and drip your heart out :)

    what are you planning on using vert-de-gris on?

  11. Your Whiskey says:

    Thank you, you really write in a way everyone – including me :-) – can@is able to understand, even if someone is not so familiar with these things. But what exactly do you mean with your first sentence? Frank

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