As a child I loved blue eyes. I thought that by just wishing it, one morning when I woke up, my eyes would be this color. It’s a pity, but today they are still brown. Yes, how beautiful is that blue, crystal color.
We go for a walk and the blue color surrounds us. If you look at the sky, you will see the largest piece of blue that exists. Navigate the ocean and the blue will become infinite. Blue fills our days, it is the color of Facebook and Twitter, the favorite color of 50% of the people. Why do you choose blue? Discover the keys to the color blue.
What do you find in this post?
1.- What is blue?
2.- When did the color blue begin to be used in art? The blue pigment
3.- When was the color blue called?
4.- The meaning of blue
5.- Practical applications of the color blue
6.- Symbology of blue in different cultures
“Blue is the closest color to the truth.”
Steven Tyler, American singer, songwriter, actor.
WHAT IS BLUE?
But what is blue? An adjective, a game, a pigment or a color. To see color we need light, color is not a property of light, but an effect of perception. What we record is the reflection (refraction) of light on objects. Things are not blue, but we perceive them blue.
Blue is the fifth color of the rainbow. It is a primary color, it cannot be created by mixing other colors. Cold color, complementary to orange, with a wide range of shades ranging from turquoise blue to ultramarine blue.
Blue is essential in landscape painting, because with it we achieve the atmospheric perspective that Leonardo Da Vinci “invented”. With this we create the feeling of depth in a painting. Layers of blue overlap and fade into the background. Objects become paler and bluish the further away they are from the viewer.
This happens because “the dust and moisture parts floating in the atmosphere scatter light. Light with a shorter wavelength (blue) is scattered more and light with a longer wavelength (red) is scattered less. This is why the sky is blueand why dark objects seen from a distance appear bluish in color.
Artists reproduce this natural effect with faint, pale, bluish tones on the horizon” https://3minutosdearte.com/generos-y-tecnicas/perspectiva-atmosferica/
“Life is simple, it is cherry red or night blue”
Lou Gramm, American rock singer-songwriter
WHEN DID ART START USING THE COLOR BLUE? THE BLUE PIGMENT
Now it is easy to get a tube of blue paint. You go to the store or you search for it on your computer and buy it. But I assure you, it wasn’t always like this.
We live on the blue planet, but this color is very difficult to find in nature due to the lack of material resources (plant, animal or mineral) to obtain the natural pigment. Blue has always been highly sought after and appreciated.
It also took a long time for the color blue to enter art. It does not appear in prehistoric European paintings, the materials to make the pigment did not exist in his environment.
It was the Egyptians, some 5,000 years ago, who were able to synthesize blue for the first time. Nile sand, mineral salt, bronze was used and it was boiled at temperatures between 800 and 1000 degrees. This blue was difficult to obtain and very much appreciated.
During ancient times, we found blue in ancient Greek monuments, although it was rarely used. The Romans continued to use it as a luxury item.
In America, the Mayan people created their own blue, “Mayan blue,” which was made with indigo leaves, a plant from the area. When the native population disappeared, so did the pigment.
Ultramarine blue was made with lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone. The first time it was used was in the 6th and 7th centuries in cave paintings in Afghanistan, where the mines of that stone were located. The pigment was widely used during the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe. It was imported from Afghanistan, “from across the sea,” hence its name, ultramarine. Due to its long journey and difficulty in preparation, this pigment was worth 5 times its weight in gold. Because the pigment was precious, it was used sparingly, for example only for the blue clothing of Mary and Jesus.
From the chemical revolution in the 19th century, blue was no longer an exclusive color, different synthetic blues were created. Already in the 20th century, we find the constant use of this color. For some artists such as Picasso (blue period) or Chagall this was essential.
WHEN THE COLOR BLUE WAS A NAME?
It was very difficult to make the color blue, did it take so long to name it?
In the language of many ancient civilizations, there was no word for the color blue. Homer (8th century BC) does not use it in De Iliad, nor in the Odyssey. When he talks about the sea and wants to mention its color, he describes it as the color of wine. It is common that among primitive tribes (Namibia) the word blue does not occur either, but there are different terms for green.
The linguist Guy Deutscher confirms that the same thing happens in all primitive cultures, man first mentions important things, in response to his needs. For this reason, red is first called the color of blood (childbirth, hunting) rather than blue, the color of the sky.
“If blue is the deepest mystery, blue is the soul”
THE MEANING OF BLUE
The meaning of a color, and thus of blue, is created by its association with elements that we perceive of that color and that generate specific emotional experiences. The color blue has been linked to water, rain, seas and oceans. Also with the color of the sky.
Light blue tends to have a more innocent and pure symbolism; stands for freshness and youth (sky blue, calm water). In dark shades, it is related to maturity and harshness; stands for intelligence, strength and success (storms, waves and sunset).
Blue is also associated with the idea of serenity, harmony and tranquility, control of the situation, protection, as well as peace, understanding between people and cordiality.
The psychology of color links it to feelings of friendship, loyalty, security, unity and trust. The color blue is freedom, truth, strength and authority. Masculinity is blue, also modernity and technological development.
In its negative connotations, blue is the capacity for introspection, egocentricity and detachment that characterize it. It can be identified with rigid and conservative, melancholic and emotional people, related to sadness or depression, as well as passivity. For example in jazz music “Blues” (blue).
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THE BLUE COLOR
Many brands use the blue color for its connection to credibility, truth and power, and for its association with leadership. For these reasons, it is also used in political events and election campaigns.
In sports it is quite common. In dark tones, blue represents elegance, it is also used in the kitchen world, but in this case to make it easier to eat less.
Blue is also often associated with mental and emotional stability. The contemplation of blue has been observed to promote breathing as well as aid in meditation processes. For this reason it is used in places where relaxation activities are practiced (eg Yoga) and in rest areas. The bedrooms are painted blue because of their perception of tranquility that allows sleeping. Together with white it is mostly used in hospitals. Blue also seems to promote creativity.
“One of her tears fell into my mouth, where it became a blue sapphire, source of strength and eternal hope”
Anita Diamant, writer
SYMBOLOGY OF BLUE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES
The symbology of blue varies in the different cultures of the world. In Egypt or India, blue is considered sacred, in Hindu religion the god Krishna (symbol of love, care and rigor) has the skin of that color.
Judaism often associates it with holiness. In Christian iconography, light blue represents innocence as the color, therefore Mary is always dressed in light blue.
In Muslim countries, blue is the color of protection (sky), but also of economic power.
Indigenous peoples of South America usually associate it with the spiritual and the sacred, blue is the color of the clothing of some of their main gods.
Many cultures did not distinguish between blue and green. The word “qing” referred to shades, from dark gray to blue and green.
In China it is associated with healing and harmony, it is a color of happiness. But sometimes blue has a negative connotation and has been linked to pornography and even evil. The face in blue is the traditional characterization of the evil and cruel character. Even in the past, people with blue eyes were rejected and considered unnatural.
In Korea, its meaning is related to death, it is the color of mourning. In Eastern Europe it is usually associated with immortality.
In our Western culture we associate blue with the boy (baby), as opposed to the pink of a girl. Although in Belgium, unlike most countries in the world, blue is related to girls.
Blue is also associated with the fantasy character ‘Bluebeard’ and with utopian ideas ‘prince blue’. The blue princes are named after the color of the blood of the nobles that their white skin, without contact with the sun, revealed their bluish veins.
In 1850, Levi Strauss invented the blue jeans designed as workwear for gold miners. The color blue is also widely used in uniforms and work clothes, for example in the police and navy. Blue is also the color of workers, the practical, the everyday and the ordinary.
It is used in technological or personal hygiene products. Milk often comes in blue packaging.
“Jeans are the nicest thing since the gondola”
Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) American fashion editor
What is blue to you? Is it your favorite color? Do you use it in your paintings? Why?
Imagine what you can achieve now with the color blue. As of today, it is no longer the same to wear blue jeans, look at the sky and see that it is blue, take a picture and post it on Facebook or Twitter, which by chance are also blue. And who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones who wanted blue eyes, and has them 😉
“If you see a tree as blue, make it blue.”
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) French painter
Photography/ artwork: Ángeles Nieto
“Los nombres de los colores en el español en los siglos XV1-XVII”. Ewa Stala
“Het geheime leven van kleuren”. Kassia St Clair . Uitgeverij Meulenhoff. 2017
Want to know more about red or white?
3 keys to understand the secret of the red color
Other interesting articles about color
The 7 keys of color, color value
Be master of the colors. The power of warm and cool colors