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  • Writer's pictureGillian Holding

Perils of Prussian Blue

works in progress

The other day I was seized by an impulse to use a mix of Prussian blue and Cadmium Red for a painting. Poking around amongst ancient tubes of colour, I was pleased to unearth an almost-empty one of the blue and squeezed out the remains onto the large glass palette.

It was quite a pile and I didn’t use it all. Renown for its dramatic staining power, I’d forgotten just what a thuggish colour it is to play with. I scraped the remains onto a paper palette, covered it with cling-film, and intermittently used it the next few days. I’d also forgotten how slowly it dries.

This winning combo of massive staining potential and lengthy drying time ultimately became my worst nightmare when I noticed a weird blue growth on the underside of my foot a day or so ago. It was a matted lump of semi-dried Prussian Blue, and its power to change the world was tempered only by a firm covering of studio dust.

“That’ll teach me to pad around barefoot on a hot day” I thought.

A few hours later, I found dark blue marks on the kitchen floor. Within minutes, the full and awful consequences of my carelessness were apparent. I even had to clean the insides of my shoes. The studio floor was equally dire, because finding wet patches of Prussian Blue on a paint spattered floor is like searching for green thread on a lawn.

I’m usually a careful and tidy painter in relation to materials. I certainly can’t remember the last time I dropped oil paint on the floor. So of all the colours it was possible to let slide off the knife, why did it have to be Prussian Blue?

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