Perylene Friday

First, a mendicant item. I am of the Scotch genetic persuasion, devilish proud. I do hate begging. But this can be a problem, if one is a beggar. So please, gentle reader, go now to the “Pay!” button. I haven’t asked for a long time (owing to Scotch pride), and my supply of money dwindles. Now, there is a small number of people who send me money without being asked. They are much blessed, up here in the High Doganate. If you are one of these people, ignore this request. It would be too embarrassing if you sent more. But if you are not, and you think these Idleposts of any little value, then yes, I am begging. Or, if you are as poor as I am, send nothing. I’m in an excellent position to understand. And just reading me is, I suppose, a favour. Even if, in this advertisement-free environment, I have no way to sell your eyeballs.


A little boy of my close acquaintance (he is my younger son) was, from the age of five or so, in the habit of asking profound questions. Finding me with paint one day, he stared at the brush.

“What colour is that, dad?”


“But what kind of black?” (He always wanted to know: What kind?)

It was an astute question. There are many blacks. Those who have, as the present writer, sufficiently proved their incompetence in painting, may well have learnt this to their cost. There are blacks and blacks; and blacks are the most dangerous thing to apply for shading. There are people who think that if you allow any sort of black in a watercolour palette, you should be hanged. I call these people Puritans.

“Perylene black,” I declared.

He did not seem satisfied, so I explained it was really a perylene green, but mixed with a quinacridone violet to make it blacker than black.

“It’s a kind of green black, very dark, and not shiny at all when it dries. I would call it a botanical black. Not for painting shadows. It is for darkening the foliage in the distance. So maybe we could call it a landscape black, for things that are far away.”

My child (Down-syndrome, incidentally) listened with his customary total attention. He might not have understood, but loved to have things explained to him. How I miss the companionship of the little guy.

“Barrelly black,” he repeated.

“That’s it, exactly.”

Today I shall apply it to Black Friday. I think of it as a kind of dusking, towards the horizon. It adds some depth to our post-modern composition; an additional darkening at the edges.