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An Artist's Blue

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

As a child my favorite color was always blue. When queried nowadays, I usually say that I don't really have a favorite per se. An artist has to have a degree of objectivity with regard to color. Yet, as I was preparing for a duo exhibit and saw 12 or so of my oil paintings hanging on the gallery wall, I remarked to my exhibit partner, "Wow, I paint with a lot of blue."

What does all this mean?

Color evokes emotion. Blue is the color of trust, loyalty and intelligence, hence the familiar phrase, "true blue'. Blue can elicit a feeling of freedom and expansiveness, intuition and inspiration. The sky and the sea are perceived as blue. Sometimes we refer to Earth as the blue planet. Are you feeling 'blue' today? The question does not necessarily infer depression but rather introspection. You may be quieter than usual, thinking more.

In the context of oil painting blue is a primary pigment which means that it cannot be made by mixing other pigments. In other words, it is a source color. Favorite blues that I love to paint with include French Ultramarine, Sevres and Gamblin's Radiant Blue.

Have you heard?

My latest research into the painting pigment is YIn Mn Blue. Discovered unexpectedly in 2009 at Oregon State University while exploring the electronic properties of manganese oxide, YIn Mn Blue is the first new color on the market in 200 years. Its attributes are opacity, intensity and durability. The color was named for the ingredient elements of yttrium, indium and manganese. It is a vivid shade! Kind of looks like a cross between Ultramarine and Cobalt. And that's what intrigued me. YIn Mn Blue received EPA approval in May, 2020 and is finally available to artists.

Have you snagged your own tube?

Sold through Golden and Gamblin, YIn Mn Blue was out of stock when I last checked. Bummer. I really want to get my paint brushes into a tube of this stuff. Let me know if you come across where it can be purchased.

I hope that this article may have sparked your interest in the color blue. Sweet dreams of blue!

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