Tuesday, July 21, 2009

La vie en bleu


This is what's been occupying me. The beamed ceiling in a room of my own, as will be. It used to be a cow stable. When we moved here it had the old drinking fountains for the cattle plumbed in, a channel down the floor for cow's effluent, and a very nasty looking stain on the wall. Upstairs, which is now our bedroom, wasn't really upstairs at all, just a kind of hayloft, made from old roofing felt and wormeaten branches. There were bales for straw of uncertain age and a rat's skeleton. Tom fell off the ladder a couple of up there times in our first year, which did him no good really. It wasn't a nice place.

He built the ceiling (and most else of the room, though I did mix and barrow the concrete for the floor...), now I'm painting it.

Blue. Very blue. Turquoise no.3, though it's not as turquoise as I expected, except when it gets in my eyebrows when it looks more so. It's rather toybox blue, woad blue, cerulean, maybe. The blue of lost jewels and of Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere's robe. Perhaps the 'strong blue' of Gudrun Brangwen's coat which she scandalised all by wearing with emerald green stockings (someone, I forget who, wrote a funny essay on that, positing that DH Lawrence was a fetishist for women's stockings...).

It is not a safe decorating colour. But I cannot describe the thrumming below the solar plexus that the sight of this blue gives me. I love the red of the dining room, the soft woody green of the living room, I'm happy enough with the lavenders and purples and heathery colours in the bedroom, and I had half a hankering for some wild and madderish pinks, but this is something else. It is not sad, it is deep.

It's hard work to paint; the beams make the area much greater, and overhead is always more difficult. My hand, arm, shoulder and neck all ache, as it's thick paint and I'm averse to rollers and second coats, using only a two-inch brush to get into all the corners. But it's worth it; going up the ladder is like putting my head into the sky.

And I get to listen to Proust while I'm doing it ...

16 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

I like. Have the beams soaked up lots of paint? I can highly recommend a room of your own.
I sympathise with you re the 'painting shoulder', am onto the third coat of another deep red wall. Have used a large brush and now a small roller to even out brush lines. Bryn has a red tip to his tail.

I like the sound of the colours you have used in your home.

marja-leena said...

MY, you two have been very busy. Lovely, lovely blue! And all the other colours you describe in your home sound fantastic, very artistic and Fauve-ish. Hope your shoulder eases up - try some arnica...

HLiza said...

That's a very nice blue..or torquoise..whatever..i still love it. Nothing beats the satisfaction of decorating your palace with your own hands! Oh I love the idea of different colours in different areas too..

Now, rest that neck!

The Crow said...

That's not only blue, Lucy, that's a damn fine blue!

:)

Crafty Green Poet said...

that's a lovely blue! Sounds like your house is very colourful! You've been very hardworking!

Avus said...

"Nancy wore green stockings and she slept with everyone" - the Leonard Cohen song came to mind.
I love that blue - a room in blue, yellow and white would be a favourite for me.

Barrett Bonden said...

Could it be the blue that the French favour for their shutters? Never intended to look fresh but to fade over the decades into what can only be described as a literary colour. Reassure your shoulder that its owner is greatly superior to the subject coming through the loudspeakers; old Marcel never took up a paint roller in his life, though he'd have commented on it. He commented on everything.

apprentice said...

Gorgeous colour and tone Lucy -I bet the liight there is kinder to this depth, here we need watery blues to match the sky!

I need to paint our bedroom, and I'm trying to summons up the will while the light is good.

Zhoen said...

Been living with rented apartment off white so long, I don't know how I'd deal with color. My parents painted rooms constantly, the worst one was a celery green that was actually a sickly yellow-green. All their paint covered dark brown and heavy greens.

tristan said...

as luck of the legion used to say in the eagle comic ... "sacre bleu !"

Rosie said...

We are a bit bland and unadventurous at our house when it comes to colour...I am still recovering from painting the walls of my room black when I was a student 40 years ago

Granny J said...

Very curious as to the language of your Proust... As for colors, five years ago, I threw out the white bedding and bought a raft of loud, bright colors for sleeping. Orange. Deep red. Black. Turquoise. Pea green. Plus pillowcases in even more colors. I've never regretted it.

Granny J said...

Ah, Rosie -- you and I were into Goth long before it had been invented or become a crowd thing.

Peter said...

Our two kids' rooms have turquoise ceilings, the only non-white ceilings in the house. The rooms are deep, as you put it, with all the same color on walls and ceiling.

I love the way you tackle blue here. You would probably be hired for my dream job: naming the colors for house paints.

leslee said...

Wow! That is a lot of work (not just the painting). And a wonderful blue! I used to love to paint when I lived in my condo - changing the color in a room is so satisfying.

Lucy said...

Thanks all, the shoulder's much better now.

HHB - I always use loads of cheap emulsion tinted with a universal coloriser as an undercoat/primer, as the main paint is too expensive to use straight on. It's water-based,as more and more paints seem to be now, even the high gloss in that store, which is really good. Molly got a blue back, so she must have leaned on a skirting board!

ML - we did much of the basic work in this room years ago, then left it unfinished as a general store-room. I'm surprised hw well we've been able to agree on colours and decor in the end, though I don't think Tom would have gone for the blue!

Hliza - hi! It is satisfying, especially as it's really the icing on the cake; we've spent so long getting the basics done, this is the fun bit. We've been more colourful than I thought we would be...

Crow - glad you like it!

CGP - mmm, we've done the work over a long time really.

Avus - Actually I was very tempted to go for wall lights with yellow suns on them! But I thought they looked just a bit too childish and whimsical, so went for some brownish pierced metal triangual ones which look a bit Persian ( I imagine!). But I'll probably still have some golds and yellows in the room.

BB - you do see this colour on the shutters etc, especially a bit further west. More often though that's a more cobalt, classic 'French' blue. They really do love blue; any housewares etc in the supermarkets in blue always sell out first. If Marcel had got as excited as I did about the paint he probably would have succumbed to a feverish attack of nerves and would have had to take to his bed attended by Dr Cothard, and would not have been able to go to Balbec that year!

Anna - I don't know, I think some rooms just seem to ask for different colours, good luck with your decorating. Summer is a very busy time for us on the house.

Z - we find we've got bolder with the colour as time goes on. I remember my parents moving into a house that was painted lime green with dark brown woodwork. Yuk!

Tristan - Tom in particualr was very delighted with the recollection of the Eagle and Luck of the Legion!

Rosie - I never did the black room thing. I remember my mum's memory of a very classy art deco interior she saw in Brighton in her youth that was midnight blue with a splashed application of gold leaf over the mantelpiece...

GJ - Proust in English, the Moncrieff translation. I don't think I'd make a lot of headway with it in French, unless I'd read or heard the English first. I love the sound of your bedlinen, I like bright and deep colours for that too. And much amused at the thought of you and Rosie as a proto-Goth sisterhood!

Peter - oh I'm glad someone else has coloured ceilings, I've alwasy liked them, though this is the only one in the house. These walls will be cream; oddly, I'm not sure I could cope with the colour on the walls, it might be too much. I wonder who gets to name paint colours? Is there a special department for it, or is it just somethng that they in the marketing section as a bit of fun? In fact they may be cutting back in the store where we got this, as they just give each hue a simple name - Blue/turquoise, then to do several shades of it and just give them numbers 1 to 6. The next one towards green is Blue/Atoll, the one the other side towards blue is Blue/Cyclades. the middle of the range is Blue/Blue!Mine use perhaps a little too much licence - La Belle Verriere's robe is really much more cobalt, but I did see a car paint that had been created using real woad pigment, and it was quite close to this. Lost blue jewels are whatever colour you remember them to be...

Leslee - Hello! Yes. Sometimes you have to take your courage in both hands; I remember a time when I thought I probably wouldn't bother with colour much again except just for accents, but I changed my mind.