What is it about the color purple?

Mixed Media

Art by Terri Fassio

What is it about the color purple that catches attention and makes the color so widely popular today?  Is it the warming or the cooling properties – or a little of both?  Let’s take a look at how the color we know as purple came to be.

Technically, the color doesn’t exist. Purple is found on the color chart between the reds (warm) and the blues (cool), and occurs in varying shades and hues based on the mixing proportions of the primary colors.  Humans only perceive purple when blue light and red light hit their retinas simultaneously.

Historically, the color purple has been associated with royalty, nobility, richness, power and strength, and the mystical unknown.  This stems back to the classical days when Tyrian Purple (purple dye dating back to 1600 B.C.) was produced from species of shellfish, and was so rare that only those of wealth could afford to purchase it.  Tyrian Purple was also called Imperial Purple.

Through the years, the purple hues often leaned towards more of a blue-ish tinge, thus morphing into the royal blue color often worn in Medieval Europe.  But classic artists had kept true to the original color, and then sampled with the pigments, creating different shades, such as Violet, Plum, Lavender, and Indigo, and more recently, Electric Purple.

It wasn’t until the 1850’s that a purple dye was synthesized and cheaply produced. William Henry Perkins was developing quinine and accidentally produced the first chemical purple pigment.  Perkin’s dye eventually came to be called “mauve.” Other synthetic dyes quickly followed.  In the 1920’s, artificial pigments were very popular and used in everything from fashion to furniture.

In nature, purple has been prevalent in flowers, such as orchids, lavender, lilac, and violets. These flowers, like the color, have both warm and cool properties, and have been known to cultivate transformation through sophistication.

Today, the entire realm of hues is loosely referred to as Purple, although many of the shades referenced are just derivatives of the original color.  It can boost imagination yet spur moodiness. Deep or bright purples suggest richness and strength, while lighter purples are more romantic, simple and delicate.

Most children love the color purple, and the magical, mystical properties of it.  When adults, those favoring the color find their creative energies emerge into a connection with a higher self, often a spirituality, and an increase in their wisdom, imagination and inspiration.  They are visionaries, artists, humanitarians, and inspirational, strong leaders.

Purple is a self-respecting color full of motivation, determination, perseverance, and respect for those creating with it, wearing it, living in it, or just liking it’s striking beauty.


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Filed under Purple Inspiration

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