Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Topography of Blue

Topography I, Ceramic Paint on Tile, 6" x 6", © 2009 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

To tie into our annual Summer Blues 2nd Saturday in August, I'm focusing on some paintings dealing with blue. I've been reading Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay, which is a fascinating study of how colors came to be as well as a little of the symbolism around color. Blue being one of my favorite colors, I've read about the origin of ultramarine from lapis lazuli, mostly mined in Afghanistan. The name ultramarine, comes from the Italian, oltramarino, meaning "from beyond the seas." It's a misnomer that the color name is synonymous with the ocean, but rather with the idea that it was traded from the East, over the ocean, to the West.

Lapis lazuli originates with the Sumerians in Ur, and was used by the Egyptians in both art and makeup. Michelangelo is known to have used the pigment and according to Finlay, one of his paintings, The Entombment, is blank in the right bottom corner. Supposedly a space for the Virgin, Finlay says Michelangelo would have painted her blue as was customary at the time, but because of the expense of ultramarine, probably never received the pigment.

The paintings I'm working on use my husband's grandmother's blue taffeta striped apron as the impetus for a study of the "topography of blue" which in retrospect might be the "topography of a blue apron." Above is an example of one recently completed. The finished paintings will be on display for Saturday, August 8th.

Michelangelo | The Entombment | NG790 Shared via AddThis

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