Blue Monday Inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aspens and Ponderosas against a deep blue New Mexico sky and an inspirational quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Today is Blue Monday, supposedly the gloomiest day of the year. Whether you take seriously the notion that the third Monday in January is indeed the emotional nadir of the year, or think it’s a convenient target for all the free-floating grumpiness we tend to feel in late January and early February, or even think this is just marketing rubbish invented by a travel agent, today is the day when it’s all right to pour yourself an extra cup of hot cocoa and feel a bit sorry for yourself.

Or–you could head outside for a nice, brisk walk. Research indicates that walking in nature with a group can improve mood in people who have experienced a recent stressful life event. The blue of the sky and the smell of wintry fresh air combine with the mild cardio workout and social interaction to give a real mood-booster and a calming effect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” The snow-coated aspens and Ponderosa pines on the Aspen Vista Trail form a stark contrast with the deep blue New Mexico sky. It’s one of my favorite hikes and always leaves me inspired.

If you would like to have a little inspirational blue sky of your own, head over to my Society6 shop where this print is available as both an art print and iPhone and laptop covers.

Blue Monday: Colored pencils in a range of blues

Harlequin checks in shades of blue, purple and green, drawn with colored pencil.

A checkered grid ranging from deep navy blue to electric purple and teal.

Harlequin diamonds and cool blues, greens and purples on a deep violet background make for a colorful Blue Monday! Sometimes it’s fun to take some of the materials from a project and make an abstract color study.

A mix of blue, green and purple colored pencils displayed on a color wheel made of swatches from each pencil.

I used a mix of Faber-Castell’s Polychromos pencils and Caran D’Ache’s Supracolor Soft Aquarelle pencils for the Polyphemus moth project.

These are the pencils I used to create the blue tones in the drawing Polyphemus Moth on a Japanese Brocade. Clockwise from the top: Faber-Castell Polychromos Sky Blue 9201-146; F-C Prussian Blue 9201-246; Caran D’Ache Supracolor 3888-111; F-C Ultramarine 9201-120; F-C Cobalt Green 9201-156; F-C Delft Blue 9201-141; F-C Light Ultramarine 9201-140; F-C Cobalt Turquoise 9201-153; C-D’A 3888-131; F-C Indianthrene Blue 9201-247.

Hope your Monday is a cheerful shade of blue!

 

Blue Monday: Cerulean blue

Winslow Homer, “Flower Garden and Bungalow, Bermuda.” Watercolor on paper, reproduced as art print. Source: etsy.com via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean. adj. From Latin caeruleus, dark blue. First known use in 1662. Resembling the blue of the sky. From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.

When most artists want to paint a sky, cerulean blue is most likely the first watercolor pigment they think of using. Interestingly, the color was only invented in the early 19th century and was first sold as an artist’s color in 1861 by G. Rowney. Cerulean blue (color index PB 35) has the chemical name of Cobalt (II) stannate and is the result of heating tin salts with cobalt. It was invented at around the same time as the other modern cobalt pigments, including cobalt blue and cobalt green.

John Singer Sargent, “Giudecca.” Watercolor on paper. Source: johnsingersargent.org via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean blue was quickly adopted by the Impressionists, who enthusiastically experimented with all the new chemical compounds that were being developed as color pigments during the Industrial Revolution. Monet’s Gare-St. Lazare station series is frequently cited as being one of the earliest professional uses of cerulean blue in art.

Claude Monet, “Gare-St. Lazare Station,” 1877. Oil on canvas. Source: art.com via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean blue is often described as a neutral blue, or even slightly on the green side of the blue spectrum. Personally, I find it to be a reddish blue when compared to my other favorite sky pigment, manganese blue. As watercolor pigments, both granulate in washes, but cerulean to me has a more delicate and even pattern as it settles, while manganese tends to form rivulets.

A color chart showing how Cerulean Blue mixes with other watercolors.

Top: Gradated wash of Holbein Cerulean Blue watercolor. Row 2, L to R: Cerulean with Cadmium Lemon; Alizarin Crimson; Cadmium Orange; Permanent Magenta. Row 3, L to R: Opera; Cadmium Yellow Medium; Potter’s Pink; New Gamboge. Row 4, L to R: Vermilion; Jaune Brillant; Cadmium Red Medium; Hansa Yellow. Row 5, L to R: Naples Yellow; Violet Grey; Yellow Ochre; Dioxazine Purple.

The graduated wash at the top shows cerulean blue’s fine-grained reticulations. Don’t you just love the lively, clear lime greens formed with cadmium lemon and Hansa yellow? The cleanest violets in the chart are formed by mixing Opera, alizarin crimson and Permanent Magenta with cerulean. I think mixing cerulean with the warmer reds on the chart gives some great shadow tones for painting flesh, while the warmer yellows and earth yellows result in some yummy, earthy, olive shades.

How do you like to use cerulean blue?

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