She Likes Blue at 311 Gallery in Raleigh
She Likes Blue at 311 Gallery in Raleigh
The majority of people around the world name blue as their favorite color so it’s not surprising that artists like blue. Blue is unique and versatile; each shade can mean something different. Psychologists think blue’s popularity may be rooted in our evolutionary development because clear skies and clean water are blue, thus, people were more likely to survive if they were drawn to these positive things. What is surprising is that blue wasn’t recognized in early human history, there was no name for it in most cultures. Blue was the last color to be named in all cultures but Egyptian. It’s speculated that their love of blue is probably related to the life giving forces of the Nile.
The color blue is all around us. Blue is the shortest wavelength in the spectrum. The short wavelengths are scattered more widely by oxygen and nitrogen molecules compared to the longer wavelengths of red from the other end of the spectrum. This scattering means that more blue enters the eye giving the sky a blue color. At sunrise and sunset, when the light is farther away, the red wavelengths reach the eye giving us a rosy glow.
Water appears blue because it absorbs the longer wavelengths of red and reflects and scatters the blue ones, water also reflects the sky. Particles of plant life (green) and sediment (brown) can change the color we see.
Almost all blue pigment is synthetic. Sky and water can’t be turned into pigment the way plants and minerals can and there isn’t much blue in nature. Lapis lazuli, a stone, was ground up to make blue but it was scarce and thus very expensive. Indigo and woad are plants that were used to make blue dye.
Egyptians created the first synthetic stable blue pigment in 2200 BC. They discovered that heating limestone, sand and copper into calcium copper silicate at high temperatures produced a richly saturated royal turquoise that is called Egyptian blue. Azurite, a deep blue, was used from 2500 BC to around 1800 AD. It was produced by weathering copper ore deposits. Then there is cobalt which is made from the mineral cobalt.
In the 6th century a blue pigment appeared in Buddhist paintings in Afghanistan; the pigment was eventually imported into Europe and became known as ultramarine (which comes from Latin for ‘beyond the sea’). It was more expensive than gold so it was reserved for royalty and the church. In 1826 a French chemist created a synthetic version which we call French Ultramarine.
Of the 20 colors most used by the Impressionists, 12 were synthetic pigments that included cobalt, ultramarine, and cerulean. They used blues to create mood, feeling, and atmosphere. Van Gogh wrote “cobalt is a divine color and there is nothing so beautiful for putting atmosphere around things.” Several art movements used the emotional power of blue including Picasso’s Blue Period, Russia’s Blue Rose Art Group, and Germany’s The Blue Rider.
“Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones…it will always stay blue” Raoul Dufy, French Fauvist painter.
311 Gallery invited 4 artists to share their love and use of the color blue. Judy Abrahams’s paintings reflect her inner self and how she sees the world around her through movement, color, and texture. Passion and boldness of strong color allow her to convey her emotion and spirit to others. Jillian Goldberg has shifted her palette to one of simple combinations of highly saturated primary and secondary colors. She combines this with surface textures to add layers of interest and feeling to her abstractions.
Mary Louise Ravese is a fine art photographer that creates intriguing juxtapositions of vibrant colors, contrasting tones, distinctive shapes and unique textures to produce photographs that are often described as painterly. Her ambition is to incorporate the beauty of painting in the clarity of photography. Vicki Rees specializes in contemporary realism executed in colorful oils. Unusual angles, dramatic lighting, and nature’s intricacies capture her attention.
These artists’ works exploit the uniqueness and versatility of the color blue where each shade can mean something different. They prove “Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions.” – Yves Klein, French artist that invented International Klein Blue, a matte ultramarine blue.
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