Who Likes Yellow?

September may be long gone, October almost over, but the relentless decluttering and tidying and sorting processes continue apace. I am beyond help on this. It doesn’t matter where I find myself, no moment is too short for a quick sort n’ tidy. No surface is unimprovable with a quick swipe n’ wipe.

Naturally my painting studio has not escaped the onslaught, and after delivering there today a whole load of old oil paint tubes I had unearthed in some boxes at home, I decided to colour organize my oil paints. As you can imagine, this is not a straightforward task for a painter. There are so many potential sorting categories, and nearly every colour can be placed in one of a number of grouping options.

Today I opted for pale neutrals, dark neutrals in one drawer, warm brights in another and cool brights in a third. Ignoring the warm blues and greens and cool yellows and reds, I basically sorted blues/greens into one tray and yellows/reds into another.

Leaving aside how shocked I was at seeing all my paints in one place (because I had had no idea I had so many), I was even more shocked by the number of yellows I possessed.

Yellow is my least favourite colour. I don’t wear it, I don’t use it in the home (though I’m partial to arrangements of lemons) and I certainly don’t paint yellow paintings. Some painters are masters of yellow; I actually do love the use of yellow by both Pierre Bonnard and Van Gogh but in both cases, it is the colour harmonies they achieve by including yellow which are the exciting aspect of their respective works.

But I find yellow a hard colour, an unforgiving colour, and almost impossible to use unless attenuated through the addition of judicious amounts of purple or violet. So why, then, do I have more paint of a yellow hue in my box than of any other? Have I subconsciously or even consciously been searching for a yellow I actually like??

I gazed at the yellow tubes with something approaching horror. Not least because I am a firm advocate of colour mixing and have long believed that with a cool and warm version of each primary, no colour is impossible to achieve. On this basis, a lemon yellow and a cadmium yellow ought to have been quite sufficient for my needs. Why, then, I had about 12 surplus to normal requirements is inexplicable.

On the other hand, I have not a single tube of paint in my all time favourite deep blue-green hue. Equally inexplicable.


2 responses to Who Likes Yellow?

  1. I like the cheeriness of yellow, so painted a bathroom yellow. Wrong yellow. I picked a different one, lighter, and painted it again. Still wrong. So I painted it a nice sand colour. I don’t think yellow belongs on walls – not at my house, anyway.

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