Friday, November 8, 2013

Periwinkle and Beyond: Wolf Kahn

The magic formula for periwinkle / lavender has revealed itself. I used 1 part Boysenberry and 3 parts Turquoise with extra-hot water to dye a range of cotton, in an attempt to match the colour of this flower.

This past week Michele and I visited the Jennifer Hornyak show at Galerie de Bellefeuille. (Please see my previous post for examples of her paintings.) We looked carefully to see how she uses periwinkle / lavender in her work, and saw many variations. We were blown away by her accomplished use of colour, the way she juxtaposes warm and cool hues, and her free, loose handling of oil on canvas.

The Sierras Seen from the Nevada Side, Wolf Kahn
While we were there, we studied a number of oils and pastels by Wolf Kahn, a noted American painter and masterful colourist. His work, like Hornyak's, is on the cusp of abstract and figurative imagery. We were especially intrigued to see how he uses the "elusive periwinkle". Often it is paired with a more saturated violet, as above.

Early Spring Tangle, Wolf Kahn
Here, in a pastel, it is paired with yellow-green.

Spring Haze, Wolf Kahn
Blue-green, whether soft and pastel or dark and vivid, often finds itself juxtaposed with periwinkle. When using a pastel palette, there is frequently a trace of pink on the canvas.

Purple Hill, Purple Pond, Wolf Kahn
The periwinkle is often used to indicate sky, or sky reflected in water. Here it is with its complement, a golden yellow.

Lengthwise, Wolf Kahn
And here it is shown with light, medium and dark yellow-green, plus golden yellow: a triad of tertiary colours.

This colour is not difficult to find in the works of Hornyak and Kahn. But though it is used freely by both, it retains its indefinable, ambiguous and ethereal quality.

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