As a child I remember royal blue as my favourite colour – I think it was because I had a wonderful flouncy royal blue party dress with three little pearls each side attaching the sash. I can see it still and I loved it. Over the years that favourite colour gradually faded into the background and was usurped by reds, oranges and the hotter range of colours and more recently my palette has been drained or washed out, plastered and nearly colourless.
Then a couple of years ago a friend gave me a large pot of ultramarine pigment and oh how it sizzles in its raw state! This wonderful colour has indeed been sizzling in my mind ever since and I have become very blue aware!
I have been finding it everywhere: in the Madonnas and works of the old masters, the abstract expressionist zip paintings of Barnett Newman. And the extraordinary shimmering use of blue by Yves Klein that he named International Klein Blue – IKB. The blue stained glass within modest little churches can be as stunning as the windows of the large cathedrals.
Sassoferrato, Newman and Klein – IKB
Learning about the different pigments by reading Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay and the medieval writings by Cennino Cennini’s The Craftsman’s Handbook has been fascinating and there is a treat yet to be read: The Secret Lives of Colour by Kasia St Clair. I also want to research the symbolism of the colour amongst different societies and cultures, a confusing subject as the meaning can be so diverse – blue sacred robes versus the blue movie!!
Having saturated myself with blue I felt it was time to start experimenting with imagery so using photographs of earlier work I started to play with photoshop – lots of good results and some not so good but all feeding into a new direction for my work to go in. After the washed out colour of recent years I find I am dying (no pun intended) to get back to more saturated colour using predominantly blue with a contrasting palette.
I am currently experimenting with sublimation inks with an idea to make some large pieces of work based on a loose timeline of my trip through life using photographs, drawings, text and motifs. I am researching a way to apply imagery to the fabric before applying colour but so far my results have been disappointing. I am also experimenting with disrupting the surface with stitch and folding. Blue will be fundamental to this body of work which I am very excited about but have a long way to go.