Of course I had to know more. It is a truth often observed that an artist can never have too many art supplies. Heading to the site the first chance I had, two hours later I was still glued to the monitor, scrolling through hundreds of colours, tantalizingly grouped in new ways (“Organic Pigments” versus “Inorganic Pigments”) and many of them absolutely new to me. Blinded with feverish excitement, I plunged down the catalogue until I came to a dead stop at “Da Vinci’s Toe.”
So of course I googled it. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t too. No other paint manufacturer admitted to producing this bizarrely-named colour but I did find an article about Leonardo’s toe. A researcher in Oregon with too much time on his hands had noticed that the feet in Da Vinci’s works all showed the first toe as longer than the big toe. I read that and thought, “So what? Aren’t all feet like that?”
No, they are not. (Aren’t you glad you stopped doing something important to read this?) That long second toe is a thing. More precisely, a “Greek toe.” And there was my very own foot, starring in all of his anatomical drawings as well as several paintings. The writer even advanced the argument that da Vinci must have been drawing his own foot, making this the first “selfie.” By now, I was feeling pretty chuffed. Leonardo and I. Leo et Moi!
That Kama colour was still a puzzle, though. It was a deep fleshy pink. If that was the colour of Leonardo’s toe, it must have had some rough nights. It would look as though someone dropped a marble statue onto it, for this is not a pretty girlie pink. One would have to call it angry.
I should have had the brains to stop there. Instead, I followed the link to “Morton’s Toe” only to discover that Dr. Dudley Morton was a whole lot less enchanted with Greek feet than Leo and I were. In fact, he actually renamed our feet “Morton’s Neuroma” because, if you frequently put them into high heels with pointed toes, as I did, them toes ain’t happy. Mine certainly are not. I can’t say what Leo put on his feet, but if he got out stilettos for parties, his too would have turned deep pink with rage.
It gets worse. Apparently that Morton trouble-maker also called it Metatarsus atavicus — that is, a throw-back to prehuman grasping toes. That’s code for monkey-foot. Insult after injury. I only hope Morton got snubbed at cultural events.
On the other hand, I can honestly say I have a da Vinci.