Six Ways to Blue
Quilt #169, November 2016
19 1/2″ high by 21″ wide
#4 in the Color Series: I’ve Got the Blues
Blues can mean too many things, all at once. Peacefulness, depression, sadness, the thrill of a line of music (a wailing saxophone), my favorite crayon in the box and the color of my husband’s eyes. I could think of references to blues six ways to Sunday and never run out of things to link that color to: ocean, sky, geysers, crystals, ice, flowers.
Blue also has a powerful connotation to mood. The other day when I was feeling a bit blue, my blue-eyed son surprised me with a FaceTime call from London, just before he was calling it a day (having traveled through the blue skies and over the big blue ocean to get there). We chatted about his recent travels to Madrid, our travels to Lisbon last year, where we together with my blue-eyed husband saw the azulejos (blue and white tiles) of that country. It lifted my spirits, and I was thankful for his true-blue devotion and caring.
The only ancient people who had the word blue in their vocabulary were the Egyptians, largely because they had developed a blue dye. In 1858 a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the prime minister of Great Britain studied Icelandic sagas, the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible. Of Hindu Vedic hymns, he wrote: “These hymns, of more than ten thousand lines, are brimming with descriptions of the heavens. Scarcely any subject is evoked more frequently. The sun and reddening dawn’s play of color, day and night, cloud and lightning, the air and ether, all these are unfolded before us, again and again … but there is one thing no one would ever learn from these ancient songs … and that is that the sky is blue.” (from here)
Wikipedia notes that the clear sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths are scattered more widely by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and more blue comes to our eyes. Rayleigh scattering also explains blue eyes; there is no blue pigment in blue eyes.
We’re not the only artists inspired by the blues.
Yves Klein (1928-1962) was a French artist who worked with a chemist to create a startling Ultramarine Blue when he mixed powder with synthetic resin. He patented this as IKB: International Klein Blue, and became known for his use of this color.
When Klein came to California to work as a visiting artist, Edward Kienholz “gave him this kit as a welcome gift, providing Klein with tools to create…while away from his home studio.” The valise, which has a tag that reads “resident of the universe,” includes “such things as a spray can of IKB paint, a page of instructions, [and] a jar labeled GRIT” (text taken from National Gallery of Art label next to painting).
“Klein’s attraction to blue was rooted in his belief that it was the least material color: ‘All colors bring forth associations of concrete ideas, while blue evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature.”
I love blue in all its variants, and enjoyed bringing the abstract to the tangible in cloth and thread.
We will begin again next year with a new challenge, going on our fifth year. We have people who join us, leave us, but a few of us keep going on. Please visit the other members of our group and see how they interpreted this challenge:
Betty on Flickr
We also have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, where you can find us all.
FYI: The next post talks about the construction, the pattern I used, and the next challenges,
and why I want to make this all over again (because some parts really bug me).
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