I have only recently, I’m embarrassed to confess, found out why Ultramarine has the name it does. ‘Beyond the Sea’ – Ultra marine – because the original blue pigment was introduced to Western Europe from Afghanistan; beyond the sea in the form of the stone lapis lazuli from which the colour is extracted. I have a strange relationship with Blue. For years I have hardly used it all in my work. Perhaps a dark Indigo or a deep turquoise or sea-green blue-ish-green but rarely ultramarine or royal blue; a primary blue. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Recently I am more drawn to it and am using it as inspiration for a new series of work I am making for an exhibition at Chatsworth House (more on this later).
For me colour is about temperature. The first question I always myself is whether a colour has heat or coolness held within it. I generally lean toward hotter, warmer colours with perhaps a flash of a cooler colour in small proportion next to it. This may explain the lack of blue. For me blue gets interesting the more it leans towards violet as seen at the tips of a hydrangea or towards grey – green. An elegant slow shift from lavender pink through grey green into the lightest petrol blue. As ever it’s the transition that gets me… these colours in-between, undefinable.