Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Purple Haze

Well, I have been listening to Jimi Hendrix, so I can offer no apology for the title of this blog post.or the play on song titles going on here today. By now, lots of you will know how much I love the colour purple. Indeed, to say I love purple is something of an understatement (even my wedding ring is set with a purple gemstone), but I can't really say why this is. 

Not that I adore all shades of the colour, you can keep those rather whimsical and dainty shades of lilac, (for some reason these always remind me of scented talcum powder!). No, for me it has to be the gutsy, saturated, really in your face, deepest tones. The kind of colour that looks like smoke on the water, (oh heck that's a song by Deep Purple!) that when you enter a room enrobed in such a colour in purest silk, just demands attention! Like Caesar! 

"Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple."
Regina Brett

After putting this purple collage together (as I do from time to time), I really started to think about why I like the colour, what its heritage is, where it derives from and how I mix my favourite shades. So, for this post, I delve into the passion of purple. 

(To be honest, I find these collage images really useful. A bit like how an interior decorator might use a mood board!)

A collection of the shades of purple I really like.

A Bit of History

Purple has a rich and lengthy heritage, with some scholars believing the colour to have been created from dyes produced by one or more species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, (rock snails originally known by the name Murexp). Tyrian Purple also known as Tyrian Red, Royal Purple, Imperial Purple or Imperial Dye is believed to have derived from this dye.

Tyrian purple was expensive: the 4th-century-BC historian Theopompus reported, 

"Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon"

Well, who'd argue with that! 

Some of my favourite purple subjects and colours

My clematis pieces have just gone to the SBA for their next exhibition.

Hmm, those blackberries are calling me in again.

In Asia Minor the expense meant that purple-dyed textiles became status symbols, and early laws restricted their uses. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium and was subsidised by the imperial court, which restricted its use for the colouring of imperial silks. Later (9th Century), a child born to a reigning emperor was said to be porphyrogenitos

"born in purple"

Well, I know I have expensive taste. Tyrian purple may first have been used by the ancient Phoenicians as early as 1570 BC. The dye was greatly prized in antiquity because the colour did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight. Its significance is such that the name Phoenicia means 'land of purple. It came in various shades, the most valued being that of "blackish clotted blood". Sounds a bit gruesome, but I know what he means. How about these mixes, anywhere close?

"If I could find anything blacker than black, I'd use it".

J.M.W Turner

A spectrum of black mixes, including a few very rich purple/black shades.

Blackinsh clotted blood?

Winsor Violet, Ultramarine and Lemon Yellow
Perylene Maroon, Ultramarine and Sennelier Yellow Light
For my favourite mixes, see below. 

Even the brands are starting to get into purple
My favourite may just be Imperial Purple, but that's just today, I'm fickle.  

A plethora of purples

So, after all that I think we can safely say that if I had been around during these times, I may have found myself in serious trouble for liking a colour! Lucky then that the 21st century has exceedingly liberal rules on such things.


Purple tones mixes with Perylene Maroon
Some Winsor Violet was used in this one too

And some lighter shades with pinks  

It might be a red onion, but I think it has some purple going on in there

Permanent Rose and Indanthrene was used amongst the other purple mixes

A palette of purple
Bittersweet and cranesbill compliment each other on opposite sides of this composition
For the bittersweet flowers, I used a warmer shade of purple than the cranesbill, which had a bluer, cooler tone.
For these, some Cobalt Blue was also used.

Favourite Purple Mixes

Anthraquinoid Red and Indanthrene Blue

Indanthrene Blue and Quinacridone Magenta

Winsor Violet and Quinacridone Red

Perylene Maroon and Indanthrene Blue 

Permanent Rose and Indanthrene Blue  

These are just a few of the mixes I have used in the projects you see on this post, and some of them are in the charts too. if you add a touch of Lemon Yellow or Sennelier Yellow Light, depending on if you are mixing a cool or warm purple, you get a deeper, blacker mix. When mixing these darker, blacker colours, it's always important to note that if you use equal quantities of blue, red and yellow, you get black. So for a bluer black, add more blue and for a redder black, add more red.

See also:

Paint it Black (Hmm, now isn't that by the Rolling Stones?) Well, back to Jimi and his 'Purple Haze'

1 comment:

vi said...

i like purple too, our front door is painted the exact shade of a beauty berry
and my favorite purples are the berry purples... for the most part