Blog no 3: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHATEAU: TRAVEL AND COLOUR DEPICTED ON CANVAS
Published: 30 Jul, 2020

INSPIRATION THROUGH FRIENDS AND TRAVEL

My passion for travel and love for people led to this artwork “In Search of The Lost Chateau”. Our friend, Anna-Ryna, on the bike in the foreground, was the inspiration.

We were six friends boating the Midi-Canal. This was one of the sight-seeing trips on bikes on a Sunday afternoon. Although we could not find the Chateau (after an hour’s biking and clearly marked on the map), we then just enjoyed the French countryside.

I was totally engulfed by the memories of our laughs, the aroma of prepared meals in the small kitchen, the slashing sounds of canal water, birds’ songs in the trees at sunset and the summer palette of the French country colors. In the end, all these emotions and memoirs were transferred on the canvas.

The artist’s brain gives me the freedom to articulate the scene in an artistic way, to fit a certain style.

This painting is done in acrylic (exclusively brushwork) with yellows and purples as the main colors. These two colors are also complementary to each other and yellow is a primary color.

YELLOW:  ONE OF THE PRIMARY COLORS

Yellow may be the color that sends out the most mixed messages of all the colors: from powerful, to declining in power, from health to sickness, from gold to death.

He is as yellow as saffron and to have the yellows are among some everyday sayings.

Claude Monet once said that color on a canvas carefully placed “…..an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, “ helps the artists to convey an impression of the scene.

Pierre Bonnard loved to paint yellow and was convinced that “…one cannot have too much yellow”.

But Lee Krasner has a totally different view: “Don’t ask me why colors are difficult.  I don’t know why but yellow rarely ever appears in my paintings”.

Pablo Picasso has the last say: “There are painters, who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun”.

A cloud of mystery hangs over Indian Yellow.  It is one of the yellow colors that I use frequently, as in this painting.  This color is not as red as Quinacridone /Nickle Azo Gold, not as brown as Nickle Azo Yellow, but a lovely transparent yellow orange.

The hue of the color is yellow, but it is in the first half of the name that tells us the origin of this color, India.

It is common knowledge that Indian cows are sacred. Nevertheless, the cow was used for economic reasons.  Since the 15th century, (Winton and Newton,) cows were purposely fed on mango leaves in Mirzapur, Bengal.  The yellow urine of the cows was then harvested on demand in buckets, boiled and purified for an organic pigment.  (Victoria Finlay).

Some old masters who used Indian Yellow were Jan Vermeer (oil) and JMC Turner (watercolor). Van Gogh’s The Starry Night,1889, was the last known artist who used the original Indian Yellow.

Then Indian Yellow disappeared in 1900, because the importation of the pigment was discontinued.  Information that the cows were underfed and appeared ill, was the given reason.  In 1996 Winton and Newton produced a new lightfast transparent Indian Yellow.

Purple is the complementary of yellow.  Purple’s history and symbolism are equally interesting.

VINCENT VAN GOGH: STARRY NIGHT

PURPLE: THE COMPLEMENTARY OF YELLOW

Purple (and all its shades and tints), is known to be worn by ancient emperors for its luxury and expensiveness. A color that is connected to funerals and some religious ceremonies.

Wikipedia Commons explains that Queen Victoria ordered a cabinet for Albert’s birthday. The exterior of this cabinet was elaborately decorated, depicting blond ladies wearing purple garments. It was a fashion statement even it was just some decoration on a wooden object. Soon rich ladies in London, Paris and New York followed suit.

Lydia is mentioned in the Bible as a businesswoman in purple-died cloths. She was from Thyatira, near Ephesus. Lydia and her family converted to Christianity, after a preach delivered by Paul. (Acts16:13-15)

We also read in Exodus 26:1 that while the Jews were on their way to the Holy Land, they carried the Ark of Covenant with them. This Arc of Covenant was to be covered with a tent to be made to exact specifications. Ten linen pieces of material with blue, purple and scarlet threading was one of the instructions.

The word purpura means change and movement to purify one’s life. Violet is the last color of the rainbow and it symbolizes an end as well as the beginning of life.

But why is purple dye described as worth more than its weight in gold?

The original color of purple is said to be harvested from shellfish Murex species. 

The Phoenicians, small in build, lived in Tyre, on the Mediterranean coast.  They were seafarers, developed the first prototype alphabet and they harvested shellfish for the purple pigment.

The Phoenicians harvested the Murex-species shellfish through a gland near the anal opening.  It is also reported that in Mexico the sea snails’ tears were harvested for the purple pigment.

As can be expected this reaping of the purple pigment, boiling, drying and sifting process, would take time. It stank immensely. To die one silk garment the equivalent of 12000 shellfish were needed.

No wonder that Julius Caesar was impressed by Cleopatra. Her whole palace was colored in purple. To show off his sexual ability and his power as well as his wealth, he made it legal that it was his ‘royalty’s privilege’ to wear a full-length purple toga.

After such breathtaking, but not even closely enough information, artists knew that some paint pigments are very expensive. The artist can also mix a purple/mauve/violet with two primaries, namely red and blue.

These two colors would also find their way to my Lavender artworks, whether it was done in oil, acrylic, watercolor or mixed media.

GOLDEN SNIPPETS

It is the striving to fuse the poetry of the written word with that of the painted version, resulting sometimes in true interpretation…”. Emotion in Art by Claude Phillips, 1925

Thank you for reading “IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHATEAU:  TRAVEL AND COLOUR DEPICTED ON CANVAS”.

You may also be interested in FIVE MINUTES OR A LIFETIME.

Until next time, have a yellow sunny and healthy time and experience some wealthy purple moments.

EDITORS NOTE:  This blogpost was last published in April 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated.

Rewritten by Ia Crous July 2020.  Travel with friends is an awesome inspiration for artists.  Depicting the memoirs on canvas with brush strokes and colours, evoke viewers to engage in conversation.  The short history of the first yellow and purple manmade pigments, opens the door to true interpretation of the artwork by the viewer.

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Ia Crous

I am an abstract artist based in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I'm restless, I like movement, I like to travel, and I love people. I love to share my thoughts and experiences in my journey as an artist.

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Blog no 3: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHATEAU: TRAVEL AND COLOUR DEPICTED ON CANVAS

Travel with friends is an awesome inspiration for artists. Depicting the memoirs on canvas with brush strokes and colours, evoke viewers to engage in conversation.

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