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Purple Rain 033A Passion for Purple

Purple; a deep rich shade between Crimson and Violet is a Femme Fatale.

Purple is feminine; a Lady in Lavender, a Maiden in Mauve, a Madam attired in rich Plum, a Vixen in Violet, and sometimes a ‘Shrinking’ Violet. If Purple were a person, she would be female and not always a lady. The beautiful, but murderous orchid (also a term for pale purple) has beautiful flowers, but is a parasite and eventually kills her host.

Capture Gustav KlimtPurple symbolises royalty and conjures images of pomp and ceremony. For centuries coronation robes have traditionally been purple; soft lilac and sometimes a luxurious, rich, dark hue of Aubergine. In contradiction, the colour Purple does not like to show off and prefers the back to the foreground. Purple is mysterious, sometimes shy and at times shocking. A thick pile, purple, shaggy carpet I encountered recently unsettled me somewhat.   

Whether you like, love or hate this girl, avoid her you can’t. She lurks in everyday shadows, shimmers at the edges of clouds and hides in distant mountain tops.

purple landscape

Purple Paint

On my artist’s palette, I create the deepest dark tones for shadows by mixing Cadmium red and Pthalo blue, deep purple, the colour of midnight. A palette for portraiture requires a range of purples; blood runs red in blue veins underneath the human skin’s surface. I combine cool and warm reds and blues and add white to mix tints of pure purple.


Impossible to mix on my palette and best used straight from the tube is luminous, shocking pink Magenta. Magenta leans toward purple and is halfway between red and violet; it is the complementary of green as it absorbs all the green light in the spectrum of light.Combinations of purple and pink evoke a seductive or romantic mood especially if accompanied by carbon black. Magenta is feminine and sexy, a provocative lady of the night.Named in 1912,Electric Purple, halfway between Violet and Magenta is thought  to be the purest and brightest purple.

Purple Rain 032

A Gentle and Graceful Lady in the Garden

Spring is in full swing, and Jacarandas are in full bloom around Perth, their lilac flowers announcing the approach of another hot summer.

I am feeling ambivalent about their tiny flowers; they carpet my patio in a gorgeous shade of lavender but require hours to sweep.

Bougainvillaeas are ‘dressed to the nines’ in their brilliant pink, mauve and amaranthine splendour; it will be a month or two before fragrant lilac trusses adorn the Wisteria.

 Vincent Van Gogh loved delicately perfumed irises and painted them in lilac-blue. The blue–ish purple petals of the Saffron flower is shown to perfection by the complimenting warm yellow centre of the bloom.

Miss Marple

There is an association between mauve and the elderly. The colour lavender stirs up images of mature ladies with mauve/blue rinses. Soft shades of purple are soothing and calming and bring life’s stresses into peaceful perspective like perhaps a woman of mature years would.

Lilac is a classic colour choice for the walls of hospices. Serene Lavender hues create a tranquil mood and have been the symbolic colour of piety, mourning and penitence.

purple monet water

Claude Monet was partial to purple

Forever popular Purple Pigments

For centuries blackberries, mulberries, sea snails and sea urchins usually in combination with ammonia (urine) were used to extract the sought after purple pigment. Synthetic, organic pigments, such as mauveine (named after the mallow flower) and fuchsine later became available. Quinacridone came onto the market in the 1950’s and is still widely used today.

A Passion for Purple

Purple reminds of ‘melt in the mouth’ creamy chocolate

A lengthy legal battle has been fought between chocolate manufacturers, Nestle and Cadbury over the right of ownership of the distinctive purple colour. To date, neither has won the sole right to register the colour under their  name, as a trademark Pantone colour. The names ‘True Purple’ and ‘Patriarch Purple’ were coined in 1925, this hue is halfway between red and blue and its value exactly halfway between black and white.

In the Sixties, blue pigments were added to Fluorescent Magenta to make ‘Fluorescent Purple’ or ‘Psychedelic Purple’ that  was favoured by the Hippies.

For centuries, we have enjoyed drinking wine made from the noble purple grape. The colour, purple, is pertinent on my palette without it, I could never achieve the deepest of dark shadows in my paintings