My Palette: Blue

August 29, 2007 at 9:53 pm 6 comments

I use two blues on my palette: ultramarine blue and phthalo blue.

Ultramarine Blue

Ultramarine Blue

Once one of the most expensive and highly-prized colors used by painters, ultramarine has recently, thanks to modern science, become quite inexpensive and commonplace. It was originally derived from lapis lazuli, a rare blue stone. Medieval painters often used it to depict Mary’s robes, emphasizing her importance by using the most expensive pigments for her garments.

Now ultramarine blue pigment is artificially created and is one of the most affordable colors. Despite its low cost, it is a very valuable color for the artist’s palette. It is a red-tinted blue. Mixed with white, as shown in the picture above, it shows its lovely rich blue color with the slightest hint of violet, almost but not quite indigo. Mixed with red it makes some very rich violets and purples.

Phthalocyanine Blue

Phthalo Blue

Often shortened to “phthalo blue” or “thalo blue”, phthalocyanine blue is a strong synthetic blue pigment with a slight green tint. It was developed in the early 20th century, and is used both in paints and for printing inks. It has extremely strong tinting strength, that is, it can easily overwhelm any other color it is mixed with. I tend to use it sparingly. “A little dab will do you.” Mixed with white, as shown above, it makes turquoise.

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Entry filed under: Color, Painting, Palette.

Using Red Using Blue

6 Comments

  • 1. Using Blue « Barbara J Carter  |  September 11, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    […] I mentioned in my last post, I use two blue colors on my palette, ultramarine blue and phthalo […]

  • 2. cynthia  |  September 27, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I haven’t pulled out my paints in a long time, but thalo blue is one of my faves mixed sparingly with unbleached titanium.

    I enjoyed the comment you left on my blog too, thank you!

  • 3. Using White « Barbara J Carter  |  October 5, 2007 at 10:53 am

    […] holds its own in mixtures with other colors. It lends opacity in mixes with transparent colors like ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson. A little white can tone down a saturated color. White can also make mixed […]

  • 4. Pop quiz « Barbara J Carter  |  February 29, 2008 at 12:09 am

    […] Pop quiz: Can you tell which brush has been used with phthalo blue? […]

  • 5. Inspiration: Stephen Quiller « Barbara J Carter  |  December 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    […] this understanding, I pared my palette down to just a few primaries: two reds, two yellows, and two blues (plus white, of course). Each primary color allows me to “extend” my reach to another […]

  • 6. Using Yellow « Barbara J Carter  |  December 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

    […] some pretty bright shades of green. All were mixed from cadmium yellow and one or the other of my blues (mostly ultramarine). I always mix my greens, I don’t use any tube […]


Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

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Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

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