I have yellow irises, I have purple irises, and starting about four years ago, I even have mixed-race yellow-and-purple irises that appeared all on their own. These last are very cool, despite the fact that they are kind of ugly: yellow and purple really don’t mix. Actually, I came perilously close to painting my living room purple two years ago, and it was only the thought of the contrast it would make with the yellow of my writing room that dissuaded me.

I’ve never regretted painting this room yellow: it’s a cheerful color that seems particularly fitting in a 19th-century cottage, for some reason. There are certain bars I visit in my dreams with yellow décor, and they are also always appealing empty — no noisy drunks, not even a bartender. You just pour a yellow drink into a glass and savor the warmth in your throat, like liquid sunshine. Maybe this is what an iris is like to a bumblebee: a self-serve bar with bright translucent walls. And when irises close, I love the way they fold up tight as six-fingered fists. It’s as if the garden is mounting an insurrection against the sun.

17 Replies to “Irises”

  1. I think that yellow and purple in a flower can be rather magnificent in a throwing-all-caution-to-the-winds kind of a way. Like a mad old aunt having made an effort with her Easter bonnet! But you were wise I would imagine not to try the same colour combination in the house. Purple can be difficult to pull off well. Your yellow room however is wonderful. Scholarly and traditional, and yet exuberant and heart-warming too. Love it.

    One day Dave you must give free range to your weird dreams in a little chapbook. Dave’s Dreamworld would make for compelling reading!

  2. Interesting that so many love the color yellow. I simply cannot stand it! Oh, I shouldn’t say that I completely despise it…I love seeing it on something natural..a goldfinch, a gorgeous yellow tang, an oncidium, or even a lemon. But to see it on a car, a house, or a rapper’s jump suit, gives me hives! About 3 years ago I purchased a yellow polo shirt because it was on sale, and I’ve worn it only once! I can’t bear to throw it out, because I would feel shame for wasting, or I might imagine hearing my mother’s voice chastising me for throwing money away. The only time that I wore it I felt like I was radioactive, a marshmallow peep, or like a cheap neon butterfly sign over a Taiwanese brothel. No, yellow is not on my list of favorite colors!

    1. i’d agree with you Jim as far as yellow clothes go. Hard to pull off without looking a bit alarming. When a young man I once wore a yellow pullover on a country walk (well, more of a pale lemon) and I was pursued by bees and butterflies all day. When I stood still wasps and flies flocked to me. It was not a happy experience, stumbling along in my own little cloud of companions, some of which bit and stung!

      But those photographs Dave posted of his yellow workspace were charming. He looked surrounded by sunshine! I recently painted the loo here in our house a sort of slightly dull, historic yellow. There are bookshelves in there too, and the room gets the morning sunshine, which makes it most cosy. But we can’t get our guests out the damned lavatory now, so enchanted are they by its delightfulness. Not you I guess though, were you ever to visit. Perhaps with your aversion to yellow you’d refuse to use it!

  3. Clive! Checked out your site! I was pleasantly surprised to find you are an incredible artist! Living in Wales as well!! Wow, the country must have that effect on people! My absolute favorite composer is William Mathias! I wrote a letter to him in 1986 when I was a student and he wrote back in less than two weeks! I don’t think that would happen if one wrote to Madonna! LOL! Seriously, living in Pittsburgh, PA we don’t see the likes of wonderful artwork such as yours here!!!

    1. Glad to hear that Mathias answered promptly and in person. That’s greatly to his credit.

      I’m pleased you liked the work Jim, and thank you for telling me. Interestingly most of those who leave comments on the Artlog… and who have in general been enormously supportive of the venture… are in the USA and Canada! And of course it was Dave who pressed the hardest for me to start a blog, and eventually I obliged him. He set me on quite an adventure.

  4. We had a phase of watching PD James dramatisations on DVD from the 80s or thereabouts, endless yellow rooms, kind of dusty Regency yellow. It seemed quite normal at the time.

    Purple with gold accents, in flowers especially, why not? I’m interested the two kinds of irises can get into miscegenation like that.

    I wish I could visit Clive’s loo. I mean, I wish I could visit Clive anyway, but the loo sounds a bonus.

  5. I agree with you about those particular kinds of iris, Dave, but envy you your yellow room. I love yellow, can’t wear it very well, and have always wanted to paint a room that color. My college dorm room, in a gothic sort of building with tall elaborate windows, was partly purple and I loved it. Of course that was back in 1972!

  6. I didn’t like yellow as a room paint color until I moved to the Northwest. (In fact I disliked it intensely, given that Mom had a bright yellow kitchen & bathroom and I hate being purposefully “cheery.” Color me contrary.) I promptly painted quite a bit of yellow in my Portland home to offset the grey days, some muted — honey wax is one color name, I believe — and a another pumped up a tad. Not the color of sunflowers, but of soft canary sketch paper, aged.

    I have added purple to my home. A purple tending to blue, quite like the cornflower that was my favorite crayon color, or the color of some of my irises, dried.

    As yellow & purple are opposites on the color wheel they are a natural companion, but given to a bit of drama. (Think Johnny jump ups!) Toning them a bit (in saturation or tone) makes them a little easier to live with. (I love my blues & purples & yellows in my home, but then I made a self-conscious decision to embrace color — I only draw in pencil or charcoal!)

    And irises! Mine haven’t morphed into new colorations, yet. But perhaps they will. (My yellow ones should be transplanted — they are now in too little light, hidden under lilacs. Oh what a problem to have.)

    Loved the post and the comments from your artists!

  7. Wow, I had no idea this post would provoke such strong reactions!

    I bought a yellow shirt once, wore it to a banquet, everyone looked at me funny, never wore it again. Flamboyant disco-wear is not something everyone can pull off. I look good in gray.

    I really must start saying “loo.” It’s way more entertaining than “John” or “head.” (My loo is green.)

    Deb, it may well be that my fondness for gloomy days and yellow rooms go hand-in-hand!

  8. Teehee, if you start saying ‘loo’, Dave, you’ll sound not only quaintly British, but British of a certain generation – mine and Clive’s.

      1. everyone thinks i’m insane (which both does and doesn’t have anything to do with the purple).

        it was back in a period when my husband wanted to do the things i asked him to do. so i picked the color and he said, “are you sure?” and i said, “yes” and it was done. it would probably have a different outcome today.

        the definition of wedded bliss tends to change over time. sometimes it means purple walls and sometimes it doesn’t. :)

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