Mustafa Sener - Ultramarine Blue

In my childhood the women always put a block of blue into the washing to make the colour white whiter. That was my first meeting with the magical attraction of ULTRAMARINE BLUE. It sucked you in and you went on a spiritual journey to the Cosmos. It was the past and the future simultaneously and the slight inclination towards lilac made the whole thing even more magical.

When I was older I discovered even more sorts of blue, Prussian Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Turquoise etc. and in my work I used them all but Ultramarine remained my favourite. In my early paintings, that were inclined towards earthy colours and grey, I used light Ultramarine to give accents here and there.

With the discovery of the Mediterranean sky at twilight the Ultramarine became darker and deeper and it went hand in hand with many happy moments.

It’s not a colour that confronts you like red, orange or yellow etc. or like green that that nestles in the middle of the colour perspective but deserts you when you try to work with it. I always appreciated this colour in the old Turkish miniatures.

 

There are a number of things that are worth knowing about Ultramarine Blue.

In antiquity a half kilo of the precious stone Lapis Lazuli would yield only 20 to 30 grams of pigment and was therefore extremely expensive. When it became available in Europe in the 16th & 17th century the price was higher than that of gold. Artists were permitted to paint only the garments of Jesus and Maria with it.

It was only after the invention of synthetic Ultramarine by Guimet in 1826 that this pigment became cheap and was used widely.

 

There is also something strange with “colour” in general –

Why do we experience something as blue for example? Because this pigment absorbs all primary colours except blue. Thus, an object that looks blue actually consists of red and yellow. This contradiction is also illustrated in the measurement of the colour temperature.

Although blue is considered to be a “cold” colour it’s colour temperature in units of Kelvin is 10 times higher that a “warm” colour such as red. Red measures just 1,600K while blue is 16,000K.

 

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