Blue over Time

It is my wonderful youngest daughter’s birthday. I woke up thinking of the first time I looked into her beautiful blue eyes. When she was born, I was allowed to wheel her back to the nursery and I kissed her little forehead and looked into her innocent eyes and knew with absolute certainty, I would love her forever.

Blue has many connotations. For instance, Blues music got its name from the blue color of sulfur flames when the Devil was near. Blues songs are cathartic and chase away the sadness, in exhortations to the joy of living. When it comes to the color blue, the ancient Egyptians first produced blue pigment over 4,000 years ago. They heated limestone, sand and copper-containing minerals to produce a blue glass that was crushed and combined with egg whites to make paint and glazes.

So-called “true blue”, made from the gemstone lapis lazuli, was first used as a pigment in Buddhist paintings in Afghanistan 1400 years ago. Historians say that the ancient Greeks did not even have a word for Blue. Homer described the sea as “wine dark”. In English, Blue was the last of the basic color words to be added to the language. The deep blue lapis lazuli pigment was renamed Ultramarine, “beyond the sea”, about 600 years ago and was incredibly expensive. Painting changed when cobalt blue became available in the early 19th Century. Renoir and Van Gogh relished the less expensive blue. You can see the readily available cobalt blue liberate their creativity.

Indigo has been used to dye cloth blue for centuries. Above is a photo of natural indigo dye being made for batik art (Zhaoxing, Guizhou China). My wife and I spent a week in the area living in and around the various ethnic minority people. I enjoyed watching the batik process from start to finish.

Over 1600 years ago the Catholic Church decided Mary would have a blue robe to distinguish her in paintings. Over time the shade of blue became known as Navy Blue. Because Mary stood for innocence and honesty the color was seen as a symbol of being trustworthy. Navy Blue has been the official uniform color of the British Royal Navy for nearly three hundred years. Due to the symbolic trustworthiness, police use the color for their uniforms.

Pablo Picasso used Prussian Blue throughout his Blue Period , and the great master Katsushika Hokusai incorporated the color into many of his masterpieces. Throughout history the availability of pigments has opened new avenues for creativity and more practical applications. Prussian Blue is also the color still used today for “blueprints”. Take some time to enjoy the various shades of blues in your life. Chillout to my newest short music video on Youtube.

Published by cewheeler

Writer/Artist:12 years in China – univ. lecturer: writing,poetry,culture; editor – magazine/newspaper & actor. 40 years students of the Tao. Traveler. Father. Read my books at:

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