Monday, 7 November 2016

The Patchouli Pigment

I have neglected the blog for a long time... and I don' even know why. Yes, there are other things on my mind, and may be I just needed a break, but more importantly, I didn't find the inspiration to write. After a while this inspiration hurdle becomes higher and higher and somewhat impossible to overcome. A bit like having missed going to the gym for months and finding it harder and harder to overcome the guilty laziness. I'm therefore quite relieved to have discovered something exciting that sparked that all important interest again. And true to the blog, but with a reversed direction, it's all about colour. 


Patchouli is one of my favourite perfume ingredients. The hippy association doesn't bother me in the slightest, and is anyway not really justified. The unassuming bushy plant is not as precious as, let's say, jasmine or roses, but equally potent. Rich, deep, earthy, fresh, herbal, mossy, damp, smoky, rank, green, soft, balmy, medicinal, dirty, woody, glowy. The attributes for patchouli span over a wide range. Like so many natural ingredients, the actual quality of the scent varies, depending on batch, origin, cultivation and age. So how to describe all this in just one single colour, or pigment? I don't even try. Or, I normally wouldn't, and approach the note via a perfume composition, making it easier to be specific. In one fragrance the patchouli is a mossy green, or a woody brown, and in the next one it  pops up as a minty nile green. As I said, I normally wouldn't...

But then, suddenly, a new colour appears in my watercolour palette, and I realise: 
I have found the Patchouli Pigment! 

 Colour swatch of Daniel Smith "Rich Green Gold" watercolour on paper

Pigment PY 129. Even its name points towards the patchouly (the PY actually stands for Pigment Yellow). According to the Art Pigment Database  it's a copper derived, metallic complex. A rich deep greenish gold, equally dark and bright, it blends wonderfully with either earthy and bright tones. In this case the pigment comes in a tube of Daniel Smith watercolours, an American fine art paints brand, and my newest art supply obsession. Just squeezing the paint out of the tube is a delight. Like most watercolour paints, it's transparent, allowing for a multiple of layers. If applied thinly in a wet wash, it is beautifully translucent gold while thicker application produces a very muddy, yellowish green. For me it's a perfect visual representation of patchouli's qualities.

While writing this blog I'm wearing the truest patchouli in my collection: Les Nereides, Patchouli Antiques. A retro style perfume, in which the patchouli has centre stage and is rendered in a balmy, and ever so slightly dirty way. I thought about creating a separate image for it, but decided against. Let the patchouli note and colour speak for itself this time. 

8 comments:

  1. So pleased you got your inspiration back! And what a happy coincidence of Pigment Yellow and 'P' for Patchouli. I can quite see how its multitonal nature conjures up the the varous facets of patchouli for you.

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    1. Hi Vanessa. Inspiration is a fickle thing....but yes, I'm pleased that she has come back via this gorgeous colour.

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  2. The "inspiration hurdle" is a great way of putting it. Some perfumes just don't spark anything at all.
    Very interested to note you see patchouli as greenish gold. I think I see it as purple because that was the colour of the hippie shop oil I burnt in my student days.

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    1. Hi Tara, It's a bit frustrating when even perfumes you like don't necessarily inspire a post. I can see you being a bit hippyish as a student :) and I mean that in the best possible way...

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  3. Welcome back! I always think of patchouli as a velvety purplish black, which, like Tara, goes back to my hippie student days. I wasn't particularly keen on it then, I found it quite overwhelming, but wherever there was patchouli, there was purple and black in the accompanying clothes and decor. And vice versa!

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    1. Hi Michelle, I can understand the purple...but more intelectually than emotionally. But yes, personal exoerience and cultural background plays a major role in our colour (and perfume) references. For me patchouli is the ultimate Mother Earth smells, hence golden green.

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    2. I like your perception of it a lot more than mine! Next time I'm round at yours, I wouldn't mind having a sniff, see if my reaction's changed after all these years.

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