There is one paint colour that is loved by nearly everyone, a colour that has fascinated people all through history and also has a fascinating history itself.
It is possible that we couldn’t even see the colour blue in our early history, with the theory being that people were not able to see the colour blue until around the time blue pigment was being used in art, around 6 000 years ago. The Egyptians discovered how to mix Azurite, Malachite, and Copper to produce blues but the most success came with Lapis Lazuli to produce the vivid pigment often called ‘True Blue’; they later added the word ‘blue’ to their language. In the 17th century, blue pigment was prized more highly than gold and reserved for the most important images (such as the Virgin Mary’s robes). It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that synthetics made blue paints more widely available and affordable. The blue pigments used in ancient Meso-American art on the other hand saturated so many of their murals- still vivid to this day. It was discovered relatively recently that these pigments were created using a rare clay called attapulgite, which was mixed with the dye from the añil plant.
Improvements in producing blue pigments are still being discovered- in 2009, Mas Subramanian and his students at Oregon State University accidently created YInMn Blue and released their discovery for commercial use in 2016.
Why do we have such a love for this colour, especially since it wasn’t recognized for most of human history? Part is probably due to its rarity in both nature and art. The journey to achieve the variety of blue pigments we have access to today means that psychologically blue is still a colour of power, royalty, and wisdom (especially the deep, rich hues of Lapis Lazuli and Royal Blue). Now that we have the language to describe the sky and water, blue is associated with feelings of peace and tranquility. Blue promotes physical and mental relaxation, and is arguably the best colour for painting your bedroom. In one of my bedroom projects you can view in the gallery, we used bright periwinkle blue on the walls and shades of blue in the upholstery and decorative details to create a peaceful, joyful place to rest. This dining room uses Aegean Teal by Benjamin Moore on the trim- what a beautiful combination with the soft gray walls, and the few warm-hued décor pieces stand out nicely. This is a great example of how you don’t always have to follow the norm (white trim) for your home, you can use colour in creative ways for a bold result.
From humble beginnings to becoming one of the most loved colours of the world, blue is a worthy hue to add to your home décor. Bring home a bright sky blue for your energetic living room, a rich indigo for your thoughtful office space, or soft blue-grays to remind you of a peaceful beach sunrise. There is a blue hue for every occasion, and you are sure to find one that speaks to you!