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Old 04-04-2012, 02:39 PM
Blick Art Materials Blick Art Materials is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 548
Lightbulb 4/4/12 Product Information Tip of the Week - Understanding the Blues (Ultramarine)

Understanding the Blues (Ultramarine)Originally, Ultramarine Blue was mined as Lapis Lazuli and was more expensive than gold. Since the early 19th Century, Ultramarine has been available in a synthetic form, which has the same chemistry, but a different crystalline structure, and is quite economical compared to the original Lapis Lazuli. It’s often chosen as a mixing blue because it’s not as overpowering as Phthalo Blue can be, and it’s unique in that the particles “flocculate” – or clump together – creating interesting effects for watercolorists.

A question artists often have regards the difference between the standard Ultramarine and French Ultramarine. Both use pigment identifier PB29, but French Ultramarines will have a larger particle size, and the higher silica content causes the color to lean slightly more to the violet range, whereas Ultramarine (not French) will have smaller particle size and poor silica content and tends more toward the green.

As far as the "original" Ultramarine, Lapis Lazuli, hue can vary widely based on where it is mined and how it is processed. Much of the time there are enough other minerals still present to give it a grayish cast -- when it is refined to the vibrancy of the synthetic Ultramarine, the process is so involved that such high grades of Lapis Lazuli pigment are very expensive. At this point the only "Natural Ultramarine" oil color we stock is the DaVinci Lapis Lazuli Geniune, which is mined in Chile.

Fun Fact: Like most colors, ultramarine pigment takes on a different appearance depending on the binder it’s mixed with. French Artist Yves Klein worked for many years to develop a proprietary binder that would enable ultramarine to retain the vibrancy of color that the pigment has in dry form. The color that resulted is known as International Klein Blue.


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Last edited by Blick Art Materials : 04-04-2012 at 02:41 PM. Reason: spacing
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