I thought I was going to have a hard time wtih violet. It is a color I love, but I don’t use it much when I paint. It is difficult to mix if using gouache, as I most probably will end up with a pretty gray rather than the intense violet I was thinking about. Therefore I usually want to squeeze the violet red mixed straight from a tube to avoid any pain of disapointment. Of course when using oils you can get a pretty violet when mixing or glazing blue over red or red over blue.
I painted the iris some time ago on a wood panel, which I had prepared with rabbit skin glue and gesso di Bologna in the old style. There are some who tell me that you can get a glass like finish using this technique. You need to sand the different layers (before you even get to drawing or painting) to achieve this smooth surface. I have always preferred a rougher base, so that I can see the paint strokes settle into a shallow furrow.
Another painting that has a violet hue is the small canvas I painted of Monte Rest in Friuli. I painted it in these colors because on some winter mornings, when I go to let out the horses, the air is chill and still and the sky is more or less the color I have painted it here.
Sometimes nature throws up surprises. I hear myself saying, because often I will make my art related comments aloud even when I am on my own standing in the middle of field, “but if I was to paint that sky in that way no one would believe me, they would say I was making it up.” This tells me that sometimes the shortest route to a good painting is to sit outside and look at the colors of nature that surrounds me. Although I am one of those painters who you will more likely find outside with a sketchbook and pencil, or a blue or sepia crayon. I make my drawing and add notes about the colors. When I have a car again I will fill the back with my art supplies and take to painting outside again.
In Jamaica, where I used to live, painting outside was easy. I could sit on the verandah at the round wooden table and paint the John Crow mountains across the valley. They were mostly a greenish blue with the shifting light and shade that changed by the nanosecond as the high fluffy cumulus were pushed across the sky by the prevailing Trade Winds. I would also sit in the garden and paint the old chimney that stood outside the back of our house. This was where the kitchen once stood. Our grandfather had taken a rope and with the help of a couple of horses moving in different directions had pulled the old termite infested house down and built a new one in its place.
Our house had barbecue’s outside, in Jamaica this is the large flat area that was once used to dry the coffee or pimento berries, the ones that give us allspice, one of my favorite scents of all time.
But this is not saying too much about the color violet, which at one time was used to dye the robes of only the most noble in ancient Roman times. The BBC has a good article about the stinking source of this fabulous color. You can find the article here: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180801-tyrian-purple-the-regal-colour-taken-from-mollusc-mucus (at least you still could on 24th September 2018).
Today I see violet asters are blooming (Aster alpinus), thankfully the bees seem to love them and when the young man came to cut down the old dried weeds for me, I had him leave the asters that grow around the electricity pylon, because they are the autumn food source for the bees. They are a delicate violet. If I were to paint them I would have to add a good paint brush of white to be able to get close to mimicking the color of their petals.
In the evening I stand and watch the bees flying from flower to flower. There is a gentle buzzing sound that I usually associate with the start of summer and here we are the start of fall or autumn. The bees are still buzzing as the sun begins to set behind the mountain behind me.
I turn towards home and look down at my wonderful new violet wheelbarrow with the green handles.
As I said, I love violet and even better violet and green together.