Ultramarine

"Ultramarine" is the proper name for a specific pigment traditionally made from the semiprecious gemstone lapiz lazuli, found in the mountains of Afghanistan. But when I think of "ultramarine," I think of the Morpho butterfly and its iridescent wings, and of rich blue morning glories as light filters through their delicate petals. "Ultramarine" isn't simply a tone that can be codified by a pigment, sampled on a surface, and labeled by an agreement of artists and designers. "Ultramarine," like all colors, is experienced in all its facets, in different environments, textures, patterns, forms, and times.

Even a layer of pure pigment is always experienced at an angle, in a specific light, at a moment in time, and always, always against something else. There is no such thing as pure color. All colors are relative to what they are seen next to, instead of, in light of, and in place of. I enjoy the comfort of eponymous colors like "cornflower" also featured in this painting, which highlight the cultural norms we use to produce the truths of colors. Just as enjoyable, if not more so, are rebellious animals and plants like the Blue Poison Dart Frog, or Dendrobates tinctorius azureus. Frogs "shouldn't" be blue, but Asureus is a rich, deep blue, and so it reforms the nature of blue in its oddity. 

And so extraordinarily pigmented animals and plants like this lobster featured at the center of my design which occurs naturally approximately once in ever 2 million lobsters, exemplify a color as an exception to the rule. Yes, "true" ultramarine is a tone created from the ground lapiz lazuli, but its truth is permuted each time it arises in nature, whether as a rule or an exception. Every time something is described as having the tone of ultramarine blue, the nature of that particular blue shifts and grows. Every time a similar tone is called something else, that too shift the nature of ultramarine blue. Color is alive as long as we name it. It grows and dies. It reproduces into smaller and narrower shades. It is socially constituted. It’s a dynamic, glittering dimension in which we exist. It’s a spectrum.