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A 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 gorgeous 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 ( ‘orchid’ also a term for pale purple) has beautiful flowers, but is a parasite and eventually kills her host

Purple symbolises royalty and conjures images of pomp and ceremony. For centuries, coronation robes have traditionally been purple; soft lilac and sometimes a 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 Paint

On my artist’s palette, I create the deepest dark tones for my 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 true 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 complimentary 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 said to be the purest and brightest purple.

A Gentle and Graceful Lady in the Garden

Spring is in full swing, and Jacarandas are in full bloom around Perth; their lilac flowers are 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 bright pink, mauve and amaranthine splendour; it will be a month or two before fragrant lilac trusses adorn the Wisteria. Let’s not forget a favourite of Vincent Van Gogh’s, the delicately perfumed Iris. The blue–ish purple petals of the Saffron flower is shown off to perfection by their complimenting sunny yellow centre.

Miss Marple

Perhaps we associate mauve with the elderly because the word 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 a peaceful perspective, like an older Lady, perhaps a mother would be inclined to do.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 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

Who doesn’t connect the colour purple with ‘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 brand name, as a trademark Pantone colour. ‘True Purple’ or ‘Patriarch Purple.’ was named in 1925 because its 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’ and was favourited by the Hippies.

The colour of the grapes from which my favourite drink is distilled from, except perhaps for ‘Fluoro’, I will leave that one to the Hippies, Purple remains pertinent on my palette.

Cheers! To Purple