Blue, it seems, is a study in contrasts, visually, historically, metaphorically, and in its cultural associations.

It can range from a subtle, barely-there tint of powder blue to the deep depths of shades of navy or midnight.

Even though we are surrounded by what we would call blue skies and oceans, most ancient cultures didn’t have a word to describe the color and described the the sky by other means, such as how many clouds were present.

Azure blue skies, enjoyed on a sunny day, are uplifting and make us think of being carefree. Bluebirds, commonly considered harbingers of joy, were referenced in the World War II-era song “The White Cliffs of Dover” as a promise of good times to come. But on the other hand we also describe being down in the dumps as feeling blue.

Blue’s association with nobility (blueblood) and stature is in direct opposition to the notion of manual laborers being labeled as blue-collar workers.

So how do we come by all these seemingly opposing references?