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Re: Purple

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From: Artsmentor (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 08:09:19 PDT


> My fave color has always been purple.
> Wow, Lisa, Bunki, Reatha, and Me, all with the favorite color of purple.
I
> wonder if this is an art thing, or if many in the general population like
> purple

Historically, of course...purple has been reserved as a sign of "royalty"
and "authority"

Just yesterday, I was questioned on my use of purple in my most recent plein
air of a lake scene as this particular artist does not see purple so much on
their outings. It was my suspicions that this person perhaps does not live
in an environment surrounded by the colors green and yellow-green, such as
one would with tall trees and plentiful leaves and foilage.

Why is that significant? Well....I don't paint purple simply because I like
purple...though as a cool color it is appropriate for shadows. Kevin
MacPherson, past president of the Plein Air Painters of America group in one
of his books from Northlight points out a practice that I myself have
adapted this past year. That practice is to not look directly at a larger
mass to determine its color but look at it peripherally in the context of
how it fits in with the whole. What I've learned is this creates a better
overall harmony and unity of a scene. It connects you more with the spirit
of what caught the eye to begin with. For example....judge the color and
value of the sky by looking at the tree line. Judge the color of a shore's
edge looking at the water. Judge the shadows adjacent to glowing low sun
influenced tree/foilage by looking at those trees.

Well...as it turns out....a color will cast its complementary (I know, I'm
preaching to the choir here, but bare with me), onto its adjacent
colors...and especially if it is a strong larger mass.

If the trees all lit up lean toward the yellow hue, the shadows while
looking AT the yellow color will seem to have more a purple "feel." On the
hand...being in shadow, receiving less light...(though some upper sky blue
might reflectively bounce around)...looking directly at the shadows you are
more simply aware of darkness...and the complementary of such is "mud"...

Mud doesn't sound like a good color does it? So...often...now, when I judge
shadows, I see various reds, blues and violets by peripheral judgment.

Now...it could be psychologically, even though many of you might not be
landscape painters... that your aesthetic eye might just naturally pick this
up. Juxtaposed against the excitement and drama of that which is lit up by
a strong low sun, is the calming effect of that in repose in the shadows.
Perhaps...psychologically...purple is enjoyed by some like a calming cup of
chamomile tea! Just my thoughts anyway.....!

Larry Seiler
http://www.artsmentor.org

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