Moody Blues - By Jan Thomson

Acrylic Paint, Blue, Educational, Water Colour Paint -

Moody Blues - By Jan Thomson

Blue invokes peacefulness, calm and also sadness.


If I had to choose just one primary colour to paint with it would probably be blue , and of the blues on my acrylic palette it would almost certainly be French Ultramarine. The name means “across the sea” as it was taken by traders to Europe from mines in Afghanistan .

Ultramarine was originally made by grinding the precious stone lapis lazuli into a powder, which made this a very expensive pigment. Now the pigment is synthetic, making it an affordable colour to use. Ultramarine is a clear, dark, semi transparent warmish blue, which makes beautiful darks and greys when mixed with burnt sienna. It’s almost always included in my work.

Pthalo Blue is another handy colour, especially  useful for water and atmospheric skies when mixed with a cool dark red such as Permanent Alizarin.

Pthalo is a cool, transparent blue made from Copper Pthalocyanine.

The last blue on my acrylic palette is Cerulean Blue which is made from oxides of Cobalt & Aluminium. It is also a lovely semi transparent colour for sea and sky, though it can be a tricky mixer as it has yellow in it.

As I begin to plan a painting I work out whether I want it to have a warm or cool feel, and choose my blue accordingly. Pthalo and cerulean both feel cool because of their yellow content while Ultramarine is my summer sky colour, and because it has a red tinge it makes lovely purples when mixed with a cool red.

As blue is naturally one of the darker primaries it would be hard to make a good juicy dark without including one of the blues. I often work out at the start how I’m going to mix my darks, and then use those same colours throughout the painting which adds strength and harmony.

It's always good to try a new colour every now and then and see what it can add to your work…