Thursday Thoughts – Color it Purple


tulips in a jar
Thursday’s color is purple

I’ve described myself many times over the years as a “color person”. I live in color. Breath in color. Dream in color. Maybe it’s the artist in me or it’s one of the things that make me an artist –  it’s a “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” question, so I don’t spend any time musing over that. I just know it’s true about me. I’ve always liked color theory and the color wheel. I see everything in colors. I react emotionally to colors. Just ask my husband! When we’re driving anywhere, I can’t seem to refrain from saying something about the color of the sky today, the clouds, the changing color of the marshes where we live. The color of the water, leaves, flowers. And the light. I notice the color of the light – a good trait for a photographer! And not just natural things, but man-made as well. I’m just as likely to comment on car colors – I’d love a true, rich, cherry red auto with a saddle colored leather interior (make that a convertible and I’m a happy girl!), or the paint color on houses and buildings. And there are places in the world I’ve longed to see because of the colors they are known for. Think Barcelona, Havana, south of France, Tuscany.

Purple is the color of February
Purple is February’s Color

Names of colors? Yes, of course. As a kid I chose crayons by their names. Sea green, pine green, spring green, chartreuse. Maize, goldenrod, lemon yellow. Violet, mulberry, plum, thistle, blue violet, red violet, (and violet red, violet blue!). From coloring books to colored pencils to paint in tubes, jars and bottles, colors were a familiar language. Sepia, ochre, cadmium, sienna, umber, ultramarine and cobalt found their way easily into my vocabulary. Put simply, color is an emotional experience. Georgia O’Keeffe described it this way: “Whether the flower or the color is the focus, I don’t know. I do know the flower is painted large to convey my experience with the flower- and what is my experience if not the color”.

Columbine - Violets - Anemone
Columbine – Violets – Anemone


Purple. Violet. Plum. Lavender. Amethyst, the birthstone of February, ranges in color from light to dark purple, and the transparent deep purple stone is the most highly regarded. The cards I choose for my sister’s birthday (February 5th) are usually lavender or purple. I have friends who have February birthdays and their favorite color is purple. It’s no wonder I associate February with purple. Read my previous post, February – The Faithful Violet and the Primrose.

Thursday's Color is Purple
Thursday’s Color is Purple


Purple affects us emotionally and physically. It calms the mind and nerves, opens a sense of spirituality, and encourages imagination and inspiration, i.e., creativity. It is the perfect balance for the stimulus of red and the calming expansiveness of blue. We often equate purple with meditation, mysticism and royalty. It is a color often well liked by very creative or eccentric types and is frequently the favorite color of small children who see it as a happy color.

Purple - Nature's Royalty
Purple – Nature’s Royalty


Purple is rare in nature. The earliest purple dyes were costly and difficult to extract. Per “For centuries, the purple dye trade was centered in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre in modern day Lebanon. The Phoenicians’ “Tyrian purple” came from a species of sea snail, Bolinus brandaris, which was exceedingly rare. Dye-makers had to crack open the snail’s shell, extract a purple-producing mucus and expose it to sunlight for a precise amount of time. It took as many as 250,000 mollusks to yield just one ounce of usable dye.” The color was used primarily for garments of the emperors or privileged individuals and still symbolizes nobility and luxury to most people in the world.

Simply Purple
Simply Purple

Let me hear from you!

Purple is likely the color that evokes the strongest responses in people. Is purple your favorite color? If so, what shade do you favor? How do you react to purple emotionally? Do you decorate with or wear purple? Or do you have an aversion to purple, violet, lavender?

All flower images copyright Nancy Kirkpatrick Photography.

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