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