Back to Phthalo Blue

March 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

A few months ago I mentioned that I was adding phthalocyanine blue (phthalo blue) back to my palette as an experiment. I think I can now report the results of the experiment.

When I was painting landscapes in New England, I struggled to use phthalo blue, but found it too bright and turquoise-y for my purposes. The colors I needed there were more red-toned, cooler blues. All I really needed for that was ultramarine blue. Phthalo blue eventually dropped off my palette entirely. I didn’t have a good use for it.

Then I moved to California. The light here is so different, as well as the terrain. Even the grasses and trees are different. I found myself in need of brighter tones to capture the brilliance of the light here, and so I reached for the phthalo blue. Recalling my earlier struggles with this wild color, I was unsure whether I’d be able to tame the beast this time. It was an experiment.

Now it’s been a few months since I started using phthalo blue again, and I’m pleased to report that it’s going much better this time!

Painting in progress Unfinished painting using phthalo blue in the sky and the hill shadows.

I find phthalo blue is just the thing for capturing the brassy light of California, with its bright skies and shimmering foliage. Phthalo blue mixes some VERY bright colors. This can be a problem if you want subtler tones, but it is terrific if you’re looking for brighter hues. Which I am! I am especially fond of using it in my skies, as well as in shadows. It also perks up tree foliage nicely.

The verdict? Phthalo blue is on my palette to stay!

Entry filed under: Color, Painting, Palette.

Pop quiz Blank Canvas

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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