Earth tones refer to the muted colors associated with the earth, including brown, umber, brick red, terracotta, yellow ochre, warm grey, burnt sienna, tan and shades of green such as moss. They are ancient colors, and several, such as umber, were originally created from ground clay or earth.
Earth tones were used during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. They were popular among the Dutch and Flemish painters who used these colors to create their realistic artwork. Several colors were named for the area where the earth used for their pigment was found. For example, the umber shades were originally from Umbria, while burnt sienna was found in Siena. Earth tones complement most colors and can be found in fabrics, wood flooring, stone surfaces and plaster..