It’s not all that often that a new color is available in the art world. Blue pigments in art have always been precious, with Smalt, Egyptian blue, and Lapis lazuli being the three most commonly used in painting for centuries. Other blues have been introduced in the last 200 years, like Ultramarine, Cobalt, Prussian, Cerulean, and Phthalo blue. That all changed in 2009 when Mas Subramanian accidentally invented a new blue at Oregon State University. The new blue color is YIn Mn Blue and consists of the three metals; Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese.
Over the past 12 or so years, this color has grabbed headlines in the art world as — the new blue. So in 2020, Gamblin oil paints (also in Oregon) were able to get their hands on some of the pigment, mixed it with linseed oil, and offered a small run of about 160 tubes of Yin Mn Blue; thankfully, I was able to get my hands on one. Right out of the tube, it resembles Cobalt Blue, but when mixed with titanium white, the color pulls toward violet (similar to Ultramarine Blue when mixed). Overall, the color has weak tinting strength, meaning it is weak when mixed with a color.
After running these tests to see what predictions could be made from the new blue, I decided to take it for a test spin. The results were a gorgeous blue pigment that brightens up a painting and dries fast. I’ve painted two works with this new blue, the Dirty Martini (Sold) and the Gimlet. These paintings will be featured in Cocktails, A Still Life: 60 Spirited Paintings and Recipes, a new book scheduled to be released next summer through Running Press.
You can also see Todd Casey’s YInMn Blue video HERE.