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Colour Study Part VI: Blue

Not for me


I am doing an in-depth look into colour based on the freshness of early Spring, through the hot reds and golden grasses of Summer, Autumn's colours of old age to the neutral tones of Winter. We'll look at natures colour palette and how there are several ways to get from one colour to another, how light and shadow can change a colour, tints, tones and shades and the importance of colour associations and harmonies.

Is there anything more purifying for the soul than to look up at a clear blue sky whilst listening to the cool lapping of a calm blue ocean? Blue is the world's number one favourite colour, representing stability, trust, loyalty and cleanliness. Lighter shades of blue are often used in the health industry for their softness and healing qualities, whereas dark blue is often used in institutions of power and knowledge.


Blue is on the colour wheel in between green and purple. The greener side of blue includes

teal and aqua, with the purple side including indigo and lavender. Whilst red is warm, intense, aggressive and dominant, blue is cold, slow, wet and calm. It has an air of sadness, with feeling blue or singing the blues and it cannot go unnoticed that we do turn blue when we're cold, even those from high society 'blue blooded' rankings!.

Although I am not a fan of blue, I do warm to the greener side, like petrol blue, teal, turquoise and aqua, and I really like lavenders especially when complimented with olive greens. I use grey blues a lot to make grey really rich, it adds a lot of depth and of course dark blue is great to enhance green shadows. I have a real dislike for true blue and as my research discovered, this is maybe because when we perceive blue spaces, they initially appear smaller. The eye sharply reflects blue which causes the lenses to flatten and then push back, thus receding the image. My dislike for blue may even be because there is no connection to taste or smell, as there are no blue foods, and so blue can act as an appetite suppressant.

My dislike for blue isn't shared by the rest of the world, with it being voted the most favoured colour. 53% of national flags have blue on them, but what is curious is that blue has many different means worldwide despite it's popularity. In Belgium, a baby girl would be dressed in blue, in Korea dark blue is used when mourning and in China, blue shades are described as 'shallow' (light) or 'deep' (dark) blue.


Another point that maybe causes me to dislike blue, is that it is very contradictory and complex. What can be more extreme than the healing, clean softness of light blue, to the corporate dark blue of congressional power?

When working out colours to use with blue, it's opposite colour is orange, it's 'split-complementary', (the colours either side of orange) are red-orange and yellow-orange. To create a real bohemian feel, using a 'square tetradic' (every quarter of the colour wheel starting at blue) colour scheme includes yellow-green, orange and red-purple. As previous mentioned, midnight blue helps to enrich dark greys, aqua blue softens light greens and dark turquoise gives dark green an aesthetic depth.






Research sourced from:

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