Day 17 - The mysterious incident of purple

— 4 minute read


After a full year of setting aside the painting of the view from my balcony, I finally went back to it. It was always "one of these days" that I would do it again, and I'm happy to report that today, finally, was one of these days.

The setup, which I thought might take a while, took no time at all. The easel wedged between pots and plants, the little IKEA outdoor table (which we use indoors anyway) on my right, a plastic tablecloth on top of the table. On the table - all my oil brushes, a tearable palette, all the tubes that I have, and an old rag. A little saucer of linseed oil for diluting the paint, and a covered tin mug of turpentine to wash the brushes. I was ready to start.


My Instagram archive informs me that the last time I updated the painting was on 11 February 2019. Within this year, my henna tree leaned from the other balcony into this one, and the big trees by the street have slowly grown up to our feet level, steadily towards our eye-level. I think that it will take us less than a year before the view disappears. Hence the urgency of finishing the painting, while I still can.

Within the past year, even though I did not touch oil at all, my artistic sensibilities and confidence have noticeably improved. I remember struggling with the placement of everything when I last worked on it . At that point I was rather stuck on the notion that whatever I produced should be accurate (whatever that means, really), and so every timid brush stroke was a resigned recognition that I sucked compared to nature.


A lot has changed since then. For one, the fixation on accuracy I've realised stems from insecurity, the plain lack of trust in myself to be able to express anything other than accuracy. I wasn't accurate yet, but I could aspire to be. If I threw enough of practice hours at something, at some point I'd be technically adept, that part I was sure. But what I was insecure about was not having that artistic voice and creativity. I didn't believe that I had it. The least I could do was to make sure that there were no mistakes.

In any case, over the past year, after going through three months of Komeil's structured drawing classes, reading a lot (on art and otherwise), drawing and making things, and looking at a lot of art, I think I'm finally ok with who I am and what I can make. I'm a lot more confident and therefore a lot more lenient with myself. Even when moments of crippling doubt strike, I know that it's usually due to not being able to create due to being tired and occupied with work, and I try not to take it personally. (We're cool, inspiration fairies. We're cool.)

So this morning's session was really enjoyable. There was minimal yelling at myself and I progressed rapidly, up till the point where I hit a roadblock of a mysterious incident of white+ultramarine blue = purple. A year ago I had painted a lovely blue in the sky, which I wanted to keep. However, when I mixed white and ultramarine blue and painted on this blue, the new paint appeared purple. I couldn't figure out why, and how to make that same blue, and eventually just packed up since the sun was coming in.

Work in progress

Look at the two blues in the skysub, next to each other! I think I know why now. I think it was phtalo blue that I used last year, and not ultramarine blue - and since ultramarine blue has more red in it than phtalo blue, the two blues (mixed with white), side by side, just became purple and blue. Just goes to exemplify that it's all about relationships, and not what individual colours are.

I'm eager to continue, even though tomorrow I may not be able to do so because I have a presentation in the afternoon that I need to prepare for. But Sunday, definitely.

Also panicked minorly today when the main menu button of my Linux system disappeared. But luckily some poking around settled the problem and I was able to retrieve it. Felt geeky in a cool and self-sufficient way.

Installed Zoom for the conference call tomorrow. Zoom is apparently the evillest conf call software ever but most people still use it.