Having the blues during the quarantine times? Here’s some more about the color blue and blue moods, if you haven’t had enough of them! How can blue colors change your mood when you stay at home for prolonged periods of time?
I’ve been delaying this post for months, because, um…, moment of honesty, I simply had no inspiration for blogging about this subject. Between being a pharmacist on one side and creating visual art on the other side, the inspiration for writing has eluded me.
But, they say it’s sometimes better to let time take its course and not rush things. So here I am, months later, during the COVID-19 pandemic. So while my writing skills have slacked, the world has changed dramatically.
As we are all staying at home, the need for variety, community and conversation is only understandable. I am writing about a subject that apparently has nothing to do with the coronavirus stay-at-home rules, but I will show you how things are actually so connected in our world.
If you haven’t read my previous BLOG post about the blue color and why it is the most popular color in the world, I invite you to read it as a preface to this blog chapter.
Dark blue colors can bring a depressive mood
As a short recap, blue is calming, restorative, liberating. Blue exudes confidence and inspiration. But it is also chilling and too cool. Too much blue (especially dark blue) induces DEPRESSION. This is the kind of blue that I would like you to avoid … while in the stay-at-home state for the few weeks ahead – that dark navy blue, almost indigo. The deeper and darker it is, the deeper the well…
Light blue colors – a happy mood
But the bright blue skies invite you to dream of freedom and the infinite possibilities of life. Imagine yourself lying on your back in a green field, looking up at the sky. How does that make you feel? Listen to the birds around you, feel the wind around your cheeks. That kind of blue, the sky blue, is the one we actually crave for right now. As I’m writing this, I’m looking straight out the window and I see a beautiful clear blue sky, the azure intensity that makes you want to go hiking, take a walk, run outside freely. It is that kind of light blue that symbolizes the free spirit, the unstoppable mind. Cerulean blue. From the Latin “caeruleus” = the color of the sky. Immerse yourself into the blue color mood!
Don’t lock yourself in
So, isn’t it tormenting to know that you can see that beautiful freedom just outside your window, but right know you just can’t reach it?
Wait, stop. That is actually wrong. In most cases, we can still go out in the sun. Whether you live in a crowded city or a small town, you can open a window, go out on a balcony, or walk around your yard. If you live in a quiet and relatively not crowded neighborhood, taking a walk while keeping the social distance is also fine. I actually recommend getting some sunlight: it’s a powerful antidepressant, it activates your vitamin D and potentially boosts your immune system. Breathing fresh air will only help your lungs and health. So don’t lock yourself inside forever. Please. And if you don’t have spring allergies (I know, I know…) keep windows open if you can and if the temperature is within your acceptable range.
Surround yourself with optimism
Getting back to the blue color, my personal recommendation (I don’t claim any medical or scientific basis for this, but it’s an educated guess, from my artist experience) is to keep around you some bright hues, like sky blue or periwinkle and try to stay away from rooms with too much ultramarine or dark navy blue. In times of isolation, those dark colors will reinforce that feeling of loneliness. Of course, if you feel like dark blue is the most refreshing color in the world for you, and you do not want to part with it, be my guest. But for the majority of peeps out there, that’s my advice.
To expand the range of colors, try to acquire around you any colors that exude cheerfulness. Think of bright spring colors: pink, lavender, coral. Lift your mood through color therapy.
What is Lapis Lazuli?
In the other post about blue, I talked a bit about some blue pastel sticks from my studio, and I promised to come back with some history about the origins of one of the most sought-after blue colors, during the Renaissance times, the Lapis Lazuli blue. I found this stone to be an inspiration and a reminder to stay strong during hardship time.
The rarest of all natural colors, yet the most beloved color, blue comes in a myriad of chemical options in our modern times. Yet that was not the case not long ago, before artists could squeeze it on their palette. I knew and I learned from various classes and reads that the most precious type of blue pigment used to be ultramarine, a powder obtained from grinding a stone called Lapis Lazuli, mined from Afghanistan, during the Renaissance times. Here’s a great resource about it on the Natural Pigments website: https:// www.naturalpigments.com/lapis-lazuli-afghanistan-pigment.html
The ultramarine paint that came from Lapis Lazuli gets its name from Italy. Oltramarino means literally “beyond the seas”, and as I found out from a book that I’ll talk about in the next paragraph, the term was not used only for this particular color. It was a general term for imported goods that came from beyond the seas.
A book worth reading
Here’s an intriguingly adventurous book that I recently stumbled upon, called “Color: A Natural History of the Palette”, by Victoria Finlay. The author takes some of the most treacherous journeys around the globe, on donkeys and in old Russian jeeps, in search of the original sources of colors, as she comes up with the most fascinating stories about pigments. I acquired a deep admiration for this inquisitive lady… Damn she’s got courage! Just the story about her trip into Afghanistan gave me chills (a trip which was done during two separate journeys, in some of the most dangerous times, in the early 2000’s). But the revelations about the mines and the lives of the people in those isolated and forgotten corners of Earth are fascinating.
These ancient mines where the oldest Lapis stones come from are called Sar-e-Sang (the Place of the Stone). The locals know at what hours of the day to inspect a Lapis stone in order to grade its quality.
This glorious description of the valley of Sar-e-Sang is priceless: “For as far back along the side valley as I could see, the white rocks were flecked gloriously with blue. I stood in the icy water for as long as I could, enjoying the colored rocks shimmering in the early morning sun around me. [ ] Once upon a time this whole side valley would have been a blue rock garden, just waiting for people to enjoy it.” (Color, Victoria Finlay, 2002). I found a few pictures from Sar-e-Sang, on another website, taken by a gem specialist: http://www.palagems.com/lapis-lazuli-bancroft
Old blue vs new blue
The natural Lapis pigment lost its status in 1828, when the French came up with its synthetic version of ultramarine.
I have worked with both pigments, the natural one (from NaturalPigments.com) and the synthetic version, from various sources. Obviously, the natural pigment does not have the same coverage strength. The synthetic pigment is more opaque, more dense, has better coloring properties. But, evidently, there is a caveat: it is way too intense to use it just out of the tube, it needs to be diluted, mixed down with a bit of white or other pigments.
My natural pigment, on the other side, has an uneven yet distinctive spark to it. It does not reflect the light evenly, meaning it does not look flat or boring at all. It looks, well, to be honest, it looks PRECIOUS. I had the honor of painting a few icons using the Lapis pigment and I tried to emulate the old masters techniques as much as I could. Layer upon layer of lapis, the tiny speckles of pigment intensify each other, giving the artwork the aspect of jewelry.
As we all stay in our homes and respect the orders to keep the social distance during this pandemic, let’s think about the preciousness of our lives and meditate on what freedom means, the freedom to travel unrestricted and move across borders. This blue piece of stone has traveled to me from a remote part of the world, extracted from a blue mountain by Afghan miners, then following the same ancient route it has travelled across the world for millennia. A blue stone, a symbol of freedom and preciousness. Unique, just like our lives. Free, just like we strive to be.
Think of this blue stone as a statement of good health, fresh air, clear skies. Feel the mood of the blue color from an ancient mineral.
Seen from outside, Earth is blue, too. A precious planet traveling across the Universe. Be optimistic! We’ll get through this.
Symbolic meaning of different blue hues:
About Andreea Dumez
Hi, I’m Andreea, an illustrator and surface pattern designer, helping people find their inner colors and decor ideas. I’m also a pharmacist (you couldn’t tell, right? 🙂 ), who truly enjoys giving people the power to know and act on their health choices. In that regard, choosing the colors that surround us is in itself a health choice. I talk more about the psychology of colors and how they influence our daily lives on my blog. Find more about me here.