Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Something Borrowed, Something (Monaco) Blue . . .

Pantone’s ‘Monaco Blue’ is already available at BMW. 

I don’t really have a favourite colour but if I was pushed to select just one, it would probably be blue. 

My house in Norwich reflected that preference – maybe a bit too much so, people often commented that they could see that I liked blue! Since then, I’ve been a bit more adventurous with the colour schemes in my home but I still love the many pieces of blue and white china and ornaments that seem to give a fresh ‘lift’ to warmer colour palettes.

My precious plates from Delft, commemorating the births of each of my children - courtesy of  saving the labels from Heinz Baby Foods!
Blue is a colour that most people can wear easily. And, although, blue has always required a chemical reaction of some sort to reveal the colour, with indigo and woad, as well as with cobalt and copper, indigo grows all over the world. It is so plentiful that it has given rise to the ubiquitous Denims – and maybe, ‘blue collar workers’. The worldwide demand for Indigo even made it an endangered species in the late 1940s!

You may not have noticed that blue is also a colour that doesn’t show the dirt as easily as most others. I hadn’t - but I had noticed that blue paint of almost any kind, even the pigment in soft pastels, is the hardest to remove completely from fingers, brushes, palettes etc!

Lapis Lazuli
Ultramarine (meaning ‘from across the sea’) was originally processed from Lapis Lazuli and at the time when it was used in mediaeval manuscripts, it was as expensive as gold! So in paintings and statues, it was reserved for the Virgin Mary. Until the internet encouraged globalisation of businesses, French baby girls were dressed in blue, rather than pink, to associate them with royalty, or the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Heavens.

Because blue is associated with royalty – ‘blue blood’ apparently originating in Spain where the (blue) veins of aristocrats with no Moorish blood showed up more clearly than those with mixed ancestry. 

The blue of the sky gives it an association with infinity and spirituality; the search for the elusive ‘blaue Blume’ (blue flower) in the Romantic poets such as Novalis, represents the striving for infinity  It is also a fact that many of the flowers found high up on mountains are blue; so maybe that was why a 'blue flower' was chosen to represent the goal of their arduous journey!

The slugs usually polish off my Morning Glories well before they get to the flowering stage, but the year before last I was lucky and enjoyed bloom after bloom in late October!
Blue generally has a calming effect and even lowers the blood pressure. But too much calm can lead to depression and this is why the dark blues can signify feeling ‘low’ (Singing the Blues, ‘feeling blue’, Picasso’s Blue Period). 

The lighter, sky blue, however, can lift the spirits; so it is known as a ‘self-righting’ hue. 

Blue can often denote top quality, such as ‘blue chip’, ‘the blue ribbon’, ‘true blue’ and maybe even a ‘blue-eyed boy’ and a ‘blue-print’! 

But in contrast, we have ‘blue movies’ and ‘blue humour’, arising from the fact that these have escaped the censor’s ‘blue pencil’ And the name ‘blue-stocking’ is hardly complimentary, arising as it does from mediaeval Venetian society distinguishing its members by the colour of their hose!

Chrysants - screenprint
In my patterns and greeting card designs, I frequently use blue as a background colour, especially for flowers, ranging from a deep, rich blue to a brighter, sky blue - and in the case of this screenprint I made in the 1980s, varying from light to dark within one image.

But here are some gifts and other products I’ve created on Zazzle with Monaco blue as the main colour -

A selection from the 'Something Blue' range in my Zazzle store.

So once again, we have a hue with both negative and positive connotations. Blue can lift our spirits or make us depressed.

How does blue affect you?


Victoria Lynn Hall said...

Loving your color posts, Judy. It is a subject I never tire of! Until recently, I was never that drawn to blue for my home. However, we have a lot of warm toned wood in our home and I am finding that cooler colors like blue are needed for contrast.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Victoria - glad you're enjoying my little investigations into the trending colours! We take a lot of the 'colour' phrases for granted without really wondering how they came about.

I should think blue would look really good with some warm, wood tones. I have a lot of polished, stripped wood furniture, pine and oak, and it looks its best against blue.

jane maday said...

Hi Judy,
i just have to thank you for sharing that video on creativity. I posted it on my facebook page and will probably add it to my blog as well. It was wonderful. It means so much to me that you are such a regular visitor to my blog. I like coming to your blog as well, to see your thoughts and what you are up to.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jane - glad you enjoyed the video!

I do enjoy your blog too and I'll point my new surface pattern design friends in your direction :)

natacha said...

Loving your post, Judy. I love all colors, but am especially fan of the Monaco blue (and I learned something, didn't know it had such a fancy name). There's a great french sociologist and author, Michel Pastoureau, who wrote many books about colors and their meanings across the ages, there's one just about blue, if you ever find a translation. He also talks about the fights between the dyers corporations in a same town, and the problems around river usage between the dyers working with the red and yellows, and the ones working with the blues and greens. Base for a great love story I think... Anyway, thanks Judy, can't wait for the next color post.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Natacha - so glad you like my colour posts. I'm planning on making it a regular monthly feature. There is so much to read and learn about colours, it can be never-ending but you have added some really interesting ponts. I love the bit about the problems of the river usage - can see it as the basis of a TV drama series! Thank you :)

Mariana said...

Wonderfully informative post about blues Judy, thank you! I do love blue too, though I tend to lean more toward the 'self-righting' hues, I wonder what that says about me!