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Narratives, notes, diary entries, and all things written by contemporary American artist Beck Metzbower, an East-Coast mom of three, lover of Oreos (with organic peanut butter!), and obsessive-extraordinaire of all things texture.

The Porphura Period, a collection of notes

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Porphura Period began at about 2am in the morning. I had just awoken from a dream. In my dream, someone died. I haven’t had contact with this person in years, but her death in this dream really sunk deep. In the dream I was mortified that her grave hadn’t been properly chosen or cared for. I took matters into my own hands and began tearing down the trash and junk from around her grave and I insisted that her favourite flowers be planted on top of her grave. African violets and pansies.

Soft purple African violets and deep purple pansies, the perfect colour combination to describe her personality.

And that’s how Porphura Period came to life. By dreaming about death.

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Now, anytime I begin a body of work- I research every last detail. I began with the word ‘purple’ and discovered that it has a Latin root of purpura and the Greek root of porphura (pronounced pore-fur-uh). I chose the Greek translation because I understand that it literally meant purple pigment and purple fish. And my work tends to convey the idea of fish scales periodically. The earliest evidence of purple is found on cave walls and made of a manganese (a type of metal) and hematite (a type of iron oxide). It is absolutely fascinating how Neolithic civilizations manipulated natural elements to make: art. The Stone Age wasn’t so ignorant and helpless as they’re stereotyped.

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Let’s take a moment to break down purple in a social context: purple was the epitome of class. Literally. Purple was originally derived from a rare sea snail and only the richest of rich could afford this dye. This is why we see so many art artifacts portray royalty in purple. Even the Christian Bible mentions this colour specifically 48 times. Additionally, purple is a ‘quiet power’ meaning that it is made by combining blue, which is historically interpreted as a calm and feminine colour, with red, which is historically interpreted as a aggressive and masculine colour. And if that isn’t enough: purple AND violet are both on the colour spectrum between blue and red. Purple is closer to red and violet is closer to blue. Thus we get the perfect blend of both worlds. Finally, it is used worldwide by brands like Cadbury, Wonka, FedEx, ROKU, Hallmark (literally has a crown symbol), Los Angeles Lakers, and Taco Bell. This colour indicates nobility, either in socio-political statue or in how one holds oneself in action and thought.

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Other than this poor rare sea snail that didn’t stand a chance against the wealthy fashionistas of its day- purple was also derived from the mixing of red and blue, both complicated and intricate processes respectively. Both hues were derived from natural elements (metals, minerals, etc.) and organic sources (plants, clay, etc.) and these two hues could be combined in almost countless ways to create a variety of purples.

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Today, we have a plethora of hues to choose from- including Plum, Iris, Purple, Violet, Magenta, Byzantium, Lilac, Lavender, Periwinkle, Mauve, Mulberry, Orchid, Eggplant, Red Violet, Boysenberry, Amethyst, Raisin, Wine, Grape, Sangria (yes, we’re just starting to use the names of alcohol at this point), and then Pantone literally just uses numbers instead of titles.

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The last note, before I finish this post: what a journey. Every single piece has been a self-induced challenge. I want to share about one piece in particular, because something very strange happened with this piece. I am meticulous about my colours. Downright OCD, perhaps. And after I made this piece in question: I stepped back to survey my work. And there was a blue halo in my piece. Everything else was a beautiful purple in a specific variety of shades, but there was a very distinct blue halo. I placed the piece in front of a window on an easel and considered scraping all the paint off and starting fresh. But I didn’t. The next morning I came in and the morning sun was shining on the piece and I suddenly remembered: Mary’s blue. Prior to Porphura Period was Blue Period. And historically speaking, certain blues were incredibly rare and the hue itself was categorized as feminine. So artists (and the Catholic church) deemed this colour sacred and reserved it for Mary’s robes and her halo. Mother Mary’s halo showed up in my painting. I have no idea how because of the precautions and prep work I do with my colours- but I’m certain that this piece is incredibly special and is something of a Studio Miracle. I’ve dubbed it The Blue Halo and decided to add it to my personal art collection and pass it down to my children one day. I believe it has a purpose.

Source: hhtp://www.beckmetzbower.com/blog/the-porp...