Blue Things I like:
1. The sky on a sunny day
2. Bluebells, Forget-me-nots and Comfrey flowers
3. The sea with its range and depth of hues
4. My daughter’s eyes
6. The common butterfly
9. Hone granite from Ailsa Craig – the island I saw every day from my childhood home
10. Japanese willow pattern drawings
12. The image of the earth from outer space.
13. Anna Atkins (botanist) cyanotypes. (She was reputed to be the first woman to ever make photographs).
14. Lapis Lazuli pigment on frescoes
15. Joni Mitchell’s album of the same name often cited as the greatest album of all time by a woman. (It is also the album of the only song I learned to play on the guitar)
16. Mountain shadows
Thoughts on Blue:
Blue is the colour of sadness. Depression is a slide through deepening shades into black. Black is at the bottom of blue. Within blackness colour cannot seep in, it annihilates and obscures everything beneath its immense heavy weight.
Within the space of blue there is some peace. Blue is buoyant, quiet, serene and ethereal.
Things can happen in blue. Decisions are possible, intentions rise up, surplus fragments of self can be cast off to become flotsam and jetsom and hidden seeds can grow.
Blue isn’t for a few it is for all of us. Blue isn’t a tribe or a party or even just the colour of the sky and the sea.
And what of turquoise, or indigo, or cobalt. Where do they fit into the shape of blue?
Blue is space..or at least the nearest thing we know to it. Joseph Campbell called the smallness we feel against something much larger than ourselves “the rapture of self-loss”.
The ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greeks and Hebrews had no word for most colours only for darkness and light and space and the divine. Blue was the very last colour to arrive. Nothing solid was blue.
In worlds of conflict and war blue is difficult to express. Consider the blue skies of Don McCullin over former places of war and annihilation. It’s very opposite to that which it connotes (the particular place and the picture title) is what draws the painful picture of its momentary history so clearly in our minds.
There is no horizon in a blue sky sheet or in an endless oceanic expanse and no distance although there might be depth expressed through changes in shades .
Blue appeared in language and as men learned how to quarry and explore in rocks and in rare flowers. And with this occurrence in solidity blue entered human life in its decorated buildings and within the human psyche.
Goethe wrote about, not the traditional optical science of colours popular to his time, but about how we look at colours and how they work on our imaginations. He sensed that colours leached into and tampered with each other and devised the colour wheel. He defined blue as “darkness weakened by light” he said “search nothing beyond the phenomena, they themselves are the theory”.
Goethe called hues coloured shadows. We think of shadow as an absence of light but actually shadows have colours, they throw the opposite of what is in light. They are not an absence but a contortion from one colour to another. Even darkness has something to say, it is the counter conversation to the light but is just as valid and just as alive.
What shape is blue?
Writers and artists give shape to things that have no beginning or end.
1. A flat endless sheet
2. A bubble
3. A spiral downwards
4. A globe
6. A hammock
7. A swell and a trough
Quotes on Blue
‘The air is part of the mountain, which does not come to an end with its rock and its soil. It has its own air; and it is to the quality of its air that is due the endless diversity of its colourings. Brown for the most part in themselves, as soon as we see them clothed in air the hills become blue. Every shade of blue, from opalescent milky-white to indigo, is there. They are most opulently blue when rain is in the air. Then the gullies are violet. Gentian and delphinium hues, with fire in them, lurk in the folds. These sultry blues have more emotional effect than a dry air can produce. One is not moved by china blue. But the violet range of colours can trouble the mind like music.’
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd