Spotlight on turquoise

The very name evokes an exotic image. This is a colour that makes you think about mood as well as location. Turquoise creates thoughts of warm landscapes, but cool tropical waters. It is, in many ways, a colour of escape and tranquility.

The name comes from the semi-precious stone which was imported by Europeans through Turkey from Persia – now Iran. The word turquoise itself comes from the French for Turkish.

A vision in turquoise

The stone’s colour combines the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating feel of green. As a result turquoise is often used as an adjective to describe blues or greens, and not as a hue with its own identity. But this is a colour on a palette that does indeed have a lot to say about itself. Most people respond to it positively. It evokes thoughts of soothing, calming waters in a far off land and a relaxing escape from everyday troubles. It can restore our sense of wellbeing or, as a stone, even make us feel protected from evil spirits.

The artists’ view

On a technical note, the colour can be manufactured from blue and green pigments. These are usually based on the synthetic pigment phthalocyanines which range from red at one end but generally tend to be greenish. The cobalt turquoise pigment is also often used and gives clear, bright colours in watercolour and both bright and duller, opaque colours in oils.

Turquoise has both warm and cool undertones and pairs well with most other colours in the spectrum. It adds a splash of excitement to neutrals and browns, complements reds and pinks, conveys maritime ideas with deep blues, and livens up all other greens.

Painting with turquoise

There are many applications for the turquoises available in Winsor & Newton colour ranges. Turquoise can be mixed from greens and blues on your palette, but some artists choose to have a single pigment secondary colour on their palette. Using it will allow you to create brighter, stronger mixes. Here are some ways to try it with Winsor & Newton paints.

As a high key colour: a popular way of creating impressionist styles, flowers and abstract themes. Try Cobalt Turquoise Light.

As a secondary colour: Cobalt Turquoise can be used successfully as a secondary colour in landscapes and portraits.

As a low key colour: Phthalo Turquoise can also be used as a low key, more subdued colour if you are looking for a different feel to your painting.

In Professional Watercolour, Cobalt Turquoise Light and Turquoise are both opaque, while Phthalo Turquoise is cool and transparent and Cobalt Turquoise is a granulating colour.

Turquoise is versatile, thought provoking and mood enhancing. Why not give it a go? You might see it in whole a different light.