Saturday, 14 May 2011

Purple & Green

My favourite colour is purple, with it's lighter shades, lilac/lavender. I love the richness and drama of purple, and the lightheartedness and airiness and joy of lilac. Purple is a mixed colour, not a primary colour, made by mixing the two primary colours red (magenta) and blue (cyan).

Last summer, I bought an old sofa from about the 1920/30s in a "Brocki" (secondhand / thrift shop). While the upholstery is in perfect condition (it had been standing in an office and was never really used), the fabric, tough in perfect condition, was simply awful. I found an upholsterer, and ever since, I've been trying to find the right fabric. I had red in mind, matching the reds and oranges in the living room, and a greyish linen fabric with plush stripes in reds and orangs seemed perfect. But somehow, I just couldn't commit to it. About two months ago, I started considering green. I haven't quite decided on a speficic fabric yet, but I know now that green is the right colour. After I came back home from yet another visit to the upholsterer's shop and having looked at green fabric, I walked around the flat and realised that it was full of greens. Green everywhere. Especially in the kitchen. Most of the kitchen supplies that come in colours, I have in green. The thought of green felt good, reassuring, soothing, right. And I realised that purple wasn't my only favourite colour, but that it shared it's place with green. Purple was an conscious choice, green an unconscious. And I simply love the combination of the two. There was one time when I almost decided to go for the red fabric, simply because of not knowing what else do choose. I'm so glad I didn't. I wouldn't have been happy with it. But I know that with green, I'll always be happy, even in ten year's time.

Green: German: Grün. Swedish: grön. French: vert.
From OE grene or groeni, closely related to the OE verb growan "to grow, to turn green". First recored use in English in AD 700. Most common colour in nature, because of chlorophyll.
Associations: life, growth, spring, hope, freshness, naturalness, confidence, health, youth, envy, sickness.

Apparently, many Asian languages don't make a distinction between green and blue, and indeed the distinction between the two doesn't always seem to be so universally clear. I have often noticed that people would refer to a certain colour or shade as "blue", whil to me, it was obviously green.

Violet: German: Violett, from French, after the flower "violette" (Veilchen, violet). Swedish: violett. French: violet.
Colour between blue and red. Next to Purpur/purple on the colour wheel. Lila/lilac is a lighter shade of purple. Colours nearer to blue. In China, the colour violet symbolises the harmony of the universe, as it is right between red (ying) and blue (yang).

Purple: German: Purpur. Swedish: purpur. French: pourpre.
Any colour/range of hues of colour between blue and red. Colours nearer to red. Between magenta and violet on the colour wheel. The colour is associated with royaly and nobility (from classical antiquity).
From OE purpul > from Lat. purpura > Greek porphura, the name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity. First recorded use in English in AD 975.
Associated with: emancipation, creativity, spirituality, mystical, mysterious, secret, dignity, desire, longing, aphrodisiac, (as liturgial colour) penitence.

I always thought that the German Violett corresponds to the English purple, but apparently, I've been wrong. Also, what I've believed to be Violett in German, is actually Purpur, and the colour I always referred to as Violett is actually Dunkelviolett. And the Purpur, that is usually used to refer to the capes of monarchs isn't actually Purpur but Red. Very confusing...

And the colours/colour codes I found for violet and purple really do look quite similar - and somehow are missing those shades I usually would refer to as purple. And I even found somewhere that Violett and Lila are synonymous. Which to me really are very different - the former being dark (purple), the latter light (lilac). And then there's of course lavender, which in English is a whole range of shades, but doesn't seem to have a correspondent in German, but really is something similar to lavender, whic is probably why I never really know how to properly translate lila into English. Very, very confusing.

I took some pictures of these clematis in the garden last year, after I just bought my first DSRL, and I was so frustrated that the rich bluish purple always ended up having a red tinge on my display. This week, I went out again to take some pictures of them and I expected to have the same problems with colours. But having learnt a bit more about manual settings and white balance, I was surprised and happy to see, that this time, I got exactly the right colour. This really must be one of my biggest achievements so far in my process of learning DSLR photography :).

For my "green mug & purple nails" shot, however, I didn't pay enough attention of my white balance settings. It didn't turn out as had it in mind at all, and the purple/lilac of the nail varnish didn't turn right at all. This time, the opposite of my last year's clematis shots happened: the red tinge turned into a blueish one. But white balance is something I'm still struggling to master, especially in indoor situations.

Well, I'll keep on working on that. And I'm thinking about making a colour series: one colour a week. I'll definitely start with green :)


  1. I never would have imagined there were so many official names for all the little variations. Incredible. It reminds me of a car I often see near my home which, to my eyes, is green but with a pink roof. On the side are painted the words, "It's not pink, it's TELEMAGENTA!" I will try to get a photo of it for you!

    My favourite, most "sexy-coloured" vegetable is the aubergine. I can hardly resist them in the supermarket, but it's not something I would normally cook just for myself.

    So what colour do you call your hair, I wonder... and it matches the inside of the mug too, it seems..? :o)

    Great blog post!

  2. This post is so inspiring! I have to admit, I came to like these colours only some years ago, when I got hooked by my parents' roses and clematis in their huge garden. Being now a gardener myself, I cannot stop buying clematis, aquilegia, roses, lavender... in all shades of purple, violet, lilac, pink... Sometimes, I have to stop myself from buying another plat in this colour, but to buy, for the sake of colour diversity, a rose in peach, salmon, or a pastel yellow. :-)
    The colour schemes are awesome - there are not so many words for those colours in German as in English. I ordered once something in "periwinkle" - a thing that doesn't exist in my language. And most people don't have the slightest idea what "mauve" is. Poor language.
    Regards from Switzerland, Doris

  3. I didn't even imagine there are so many shades of purple. Looking forward to your color series :)

  4. Hi there! I just discovered your blog through BYW, and this is the first post I read! If they are all as good, I might just be a regular visitor!!