View Full Version : cerulean blue

12-19-2001, 06:19 AM
What can cerulean blue do that a mixture of phthalo blue GS + titanium white can't do? (and at 1/2 the cost).

12-19-2001, 09:53 AM
In one of the books I have that I am reading says that Cerulean blue has greater opacity than the other blues whose hiding power is due to their deep, dark tones. Also says it is a good drier, considerd low in oil absorption (based on weight) but shows a very high oil index by volume.

Because it is soooo expensive, some brands are likely to contain either imitations, or weak mixtures of the tue material ....adding extenders or inert substqances.

The Artist's Handbook by Ralph Mayer says that one could replace cerulean blue with the more brilliant manganese blue, which is of approximately the same hue but is transparent.

Would love for you to put this to the test and show the results. I had a tube of cerulean blue.... but someone swiped it.... go figure. Next time I decide to buy cerulean, I'm putting it in the vault!

12-19-2001, 10:15 AM

All I can add is that it's always been one of my all-time favorite colors!!

Happy Holidays and best in 2002.


12-20-2001, 07:11 PM
True cerulean blue has a very weak tinting strength, which makes it ideal as a modifier. This is how I normally use it. If you want to cool another color slightly without causing an obvious hue shift, then cerulean is an excellent choice. Thalo or Prussian is far too strong to be used in this way. And, weakening them with a white only causes the resultant mixture to appear chalky and tinted. And because of their strength, they appear far too strident. Whereas, cerulean has a very mellow quality even at full strength. Cerulean is also one of my all time favorites. ;)

BTW yellow ochre or Naples yellow can be used to warm other colors in the same manner because of similar properties.

12-20-2001, 08:25 PM
Great information! Just wanted to thank you all. It's so much easier to learn by talking things out. Books are good, but practice and talking top the list.

12-21-2001, 07:17 AM
Domer, A metaphor if you will allow me:

Cerulean can enter a room, cool it off and behave like a gentleman. He attracts the ladies but always comports himself with class. He covers well but never smothers the conversation. He mixes well with flesh tones and always takes a seat with the best in a landscape. He has mingled in history among the finest artists to everyone's delight. He's one of my favorite people to invite to a painting party and he holds a permanent position on my palette. :cool:

Thalo blue comes roaring in with a six pack under his arm. He's loud and abrasive and one can hear him all the way from the patio as he enters the foyer. He doesn't mix well as he tries to dominate every conversation. The more he mixes, the louder he gets. Finally, after suffering his obnoxiousness, he is asked to leave the party. After he goes, the help attempts to clean up after him. Too late, though. He has left his mark and it's usually not a good one. :(

The Moral? Thalo should only be taken in tiny doses and under great control. :D


12-21-2001, 10:01 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I'm learning a lot here. Renee, that was an incredibly eloquent explanation :)

I have never tried real cerulean due to its cost, so I admit I was naive in thinking it is 'over-valued'. I now know that it has several properties that make it so desirable:

-outstanding permanence
-quite opaque
-low tinting strength (gentle mixer)

About tinting strenth: even though phthalo blues have extremely high tinting strenghth, I would think that this would just mean that it would take a lot of titanium white added to it to get it to match the tinting strength of cerulean.

12-21-2001, 10:04 AM
$22 a tube but I can't live without it... now I know why!

12-22-2001, 10:53 PM
I love it too. I have a tube of Old Holland Curelean blue medium. Now I have to buy a tube of curelean blue light. I can't wait to get it, it's on sale for $32 at ASW. A real investment to be sure but it is a great color. The medium curelean blue was much less than the light blue.

12-26-2001, 05:44 AM
To answer your specific question, it depends. Like most colours when used alone or as the dominant colour in a mix the specific character of the colour is very important. Cerulean has been valued as a sky colour since its appearance as, when used alone and mixed with white, it captures certain skies to a 'T'. A PB15:3/PW6 mix just doesn't have the same exact hue, but saying that there is nothing to say that some skies are not more closely matched by this mix than by Cerulean. After all when French Ultramarine appeared artists used it quite a bit even for daytime skies, with quite a bit of success, although it is far from the ideal hue for this application, generally speaking. On the other hand when used in mixes in small quantities, as for instance in the flesh mix below, the result would be indistinguishable between the genuine colour and a hue. Bottom line, while you can't match it perfectly it's entirely feasible that the hue might satisfy your needs, depending on how you'd use it.

It's important to realise that the hue varies enormously from different suppliers, even more so when considering the slight yellow bias imparted if linseed oil is used as a binder, and it can also vary quite a bit in value. Also remember that this is one of the few colour names sanctioned to describe two different pigments: PB35 and PB36, cobalt tin and cobalt chromium oxide.

It is a mistake to say Cerulean is a weak tinter as this is not strictly true, my example (W&N) for instance is reasonably tinting and has to be used with caution in flesh mixes a la John Howard Sanden (with Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light and Titanium White) all of which are no slouch in the tinting department. Saying that some examples are weak in tinting strength while others are much stronger. I think this is generally linked to the value, the darker shades being stronger tinters, but I'm not sure.

It is also a mistake to say a hue mixed from Phthalo Blue GS and Titanium White would appear chalky, in both masstone and undercolour it shows no chalkiness, in actual fact it doesn't even look like a tint. Remember this is value 4 or 5, not 7 or 8. Lightened further with white the problem might manifest itself but used neat, no.

FWIW if I had to match my Cerulean Blue in oils I would use Flake White, Phthalo Blue GS and a tiny amount of Ultramarine. If you used Titanium White, a touch of Yellow Ochre might be good. Either mix might work out a little more transparent than the real thing.

Very good Renee, not sure I agree entirely about Phthalo Blue, underneath his brash exterior he's a decent sort, you just have to know how to treat him :-)

$20 and $30 for Cerulean Blue... I'm laughing all the way to my palette. Ya gotta love that oil market, anyone want to guess how much extra pigment there is in a tube of oil v. the same colour in acrylics? No, not that much? Less than that? Still less...? Around the same??? WTH? :)


12-26-2001, 10:23 AM
Originally posted by llis
I had a tube of cerulean blue.... but someone swiped it.... go figure. Next time I decide to buy cerulean, I'm putting it in the vault!

Guess what I got for a Christmas present! Yes, it's going in the vault when I'm not using it....and it will be under very careful eye when I'm plein air painting with groups. LOL

12-26-2001, 10:30 AM
When I am doing mountain snow paintings...out comes the cerulean. There is no substitute.

01-03-2002, 02:15 PM
nice metaphor,impressionists2.

It sounded like a poem and cerulean blue definitely attracts me.lol:D