Ultramarine Blue : Color of the month


Watercolor landscape painting using French Ultramarine Blue by me
Watercolor landscape painting using French Ultramarine Blue by me

Ultramarine Blue is my favorite color for painting the bright blue sky. I use French Ultramarine and Cinereous Blue to create a Blue fluffy sky with clouds. I will make a tutorial video on how to paint that soon and I know you will love it So let's get to know this beautiful Ultramarine Blue color.



How and when Ultramarine Blue was founded?

Lapis Lazuli stone(source: wikimedia)
Lapis Lazuli stone(source: wikimedia)

Before the 19th century, Ultramarine Blue pigment was made with lapis lazuli, a luminous blue mineral mined in Afghanistan. The name derives from the Latin ultra(beyond) and mare(the sea), a reference to its remote origins. Ultramarines have PB29 pigments in them.





History of Ultramarine Blue

Lapis lazuli was very expensive because of its rarity and time-consuming process of grinding it into the paint. To make the 30g of paint, 1 kg of the mineral was being used to grind. In the 17th Century, Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer used the pigment extensively in almost all of his paintings. The turban of the Girl With a Pearl Earring is painted with Ultramarine and Lead White and finished with a glaze of pure Ultramarine.

Girl with a pearl earring painting(source: wikimedia)
Girl with a pearl earring painting(source: wikimedia)

How synthetic Ultramarine Blue was founded?

The synthetic Ultramarine Blue was made in 1826 by French chemist Jean-Baptiste Giumet by heating kaolinite, sodium carbonate, and sulfur in a kiln. The pigment created was similar to the Lapis lazuli but it was more vivid in color so it was called French Ultramarine. As French Ultramarine was more affordable and effective, it became popular than the original mineral pigment and now every artist has this color in their pallet.


Mediums of Ultramarine Blue on Different papers

Ultramarine color swatches
Ultramarine color swatches

In the image above, I have swatches of Ultramarine Blue as watercolors, gouache, and acrylics on cold-pressed paper and hot-pressed paper. You can see that it reacts differently on different papers.





I shared my previous blog about color swatches on the Facebook group and one artist fellow asked me why people use color swatches, and this is the answer to it. You get to know how different colors and mediums behave on different papers. By doing color swatches, you can plan ahead which colors to use on which paper.

As Ultramarine Blue is purple bias, it mixes greater purple hues. I have mixed it with Permanent Rose, Mauve, French vermilion, Lemon Yellow, Sap Green, and Burnt Sienna. As per my observation, the Ultramarine creates warm Purple with Permanent Rose. I also love the color it creates with Sap Green. It creates beautiful Greys with Burnt Sienna.

Ultramarine color mixes
Ultramarine color mixes

Granulation

I am using French Ultramarine Blue from Sennelier and I noticed very little granulation. Personally, I love granulating effects. It looks super unique and beautiful to me. I saw on the internet that French Ultramarine does granulate but they might be using a different brand.


I focus more on watercolors because I am more comfortable with them and have more experience with them. If you use different mediums and Ultramarine behaves differently then I would love to know about it so please let me know in the comment below.


I hope you like the Color of the month series. French Vermilion is the next color of the month because it is valentine's month!








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