21 May 2015

Hydrangea Blues

Once again we have reached the third Thursday of the month, AKA time for the latest edition of the ROY G BIV photo challenge. May's color is blue, so it seemed like a perfect chance to get to know my blue hydrangea better. For years I've been writing about how I purchase one each spring, to place on the windowsill of our kitchen. But the current hydrangea in residence has also spent some time in the studio, where there's more light for photographing and space in which to explore & play a bit.

While blue is my "least favorite" color, I've come to realize that I do appreciate itimmenselyin nature...a sparkling blue sea, the thousand watercolor-like degrees of blue at twilight...and blue hydrangeas. I always marvel at just how many shades of blue the petals of a single hydrangea plant can display, especially as it "ages"...some blooms deepen to violet and ultimately they will take on a green tint. And in doing a little "dissecting" with the X-Acto knife, I realized how even the delicate stems that that support each four-petaled blossom are beautifully nuanced with blue & violet (you can see a smattering in the ceramic palette in the photo above).

I have also been working on a new collection of typography prints recently and thought I'd try out something inspired by blue (though I'm not sure that "hydrangea blue" is among the blue-tinged rainbow created by the colors I fixed at either end of my spectrum—it proved impossible to capture all of the blues that do exist!)...

On the note of varying shades of blue, by chance I came across the following quote in a book I was reading the other day. The observation was made after Earl Shorris drew a connection between a butterfly he had seen in the Mayan jungle a few months before coming across the entry for "blue" in a dictionary of the Maya language:

There are nine different words in Maya for the color blue in the comprehensive PorrĂșa Spanish-Maya dictionary but just three Spanish translations, leaving six butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving beyond doubt that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.

 — Earl Shorris
"The Last Word"
Harper’s Magazine
August 2000


And now, back to the hydrangea... Here it is in the studio, where I have recently reorganized the studio tables to form a luxurious three meter-long working space (thickly covered, as you may be able to make out below)...

I also had fun taking apart some recycled organza tea bags from my stash and filling them with fresh hydrangea flowers...

And here are a few closeups... I especially like the layering of the edges of the petals—like sheets of wavy paper (Image 1), the effect of a flurry of "wings" (Image 3), and the way the overlapping of the petals seems to form extra petals between them when they're seen against the light (Image 4).

A few details in case you are not familiar with the ROY G BIV photo challenge... Artists Jennifer Coyne Qudeen & Julie Booth started this project a few years ago. Each month is devoted  to a different color of the rainbow, and once we explore
all of these we will move on to other colors later in the year. Everyone is welcome to join in the search. Please visit Jennifer & Julie's blogs for links
to each month's participants. Guidelines are here.

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