The philosophy of these lessons: Look, Learn, Practice
Chapter 17 of "The
Way To Happiness" deals with Competence. I've found
that too many limit their own progress as an artist
with the concept that they "haven't got the talent."
90% of being a good professional artist is about looking
for yourself, learning (including good study habits),
and practicing what you have learned to become Competent.
If you are interested in a free copy of "The Way
to Happiness", please email me for one.
1. Theory: "They'll sell you thousands
of greens. Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium
green and any sort of green you like; but that particular
Pablo Picasso, 1966.
"The variety and intensity of greens that occur
in nature is quite awesome. When mixing a green, use
the fact that green have either a blue or a yellow bias
as the starting point in determining the proportions
you mix. (But remember the shade of green something
is in a landscape does change depending on the time
of day and what was a bluish green this morning may
well be a yellowish green this evening.)
"Each different blue/yellow combination will give
a different green, plus the variations from the proportions
of each you mix. With practise it becomes instinctive
to mix the shade of green you're after. Take an afternoon
to practise mixing your own greens, making a colour
chart to record which paints gave you what results.
Also experiment mixing with two blues and two yellows;
and mixing blue or yellow to a 'ready-made' green."
From Top Tips for Landscape Painting, Tips to help you
with your landscape paintings, by Marion
2. Word for the week: color wheel
n. A circular diagram in which primary and usually intermediate
colors are arranged sequentially so that related colors
are next to each other and complementary colors are
opposite. From American Heritage Dictionary
3. Practice: "Learning bears fruit when it is
Greens and Landscape Painting
I was talking to an artist friend at a recent art event,
and I happened to get onto the subject of greens and
landscape painting. "I discourage my students from
putting any tube green on their palette in my classes,"
I said. "Otherwise, they'd paint the entire landscape
with tube green."
At this point, another friend came up and asked her
where her painting was. She said, "It's the one
over there, the landscape painted all in tube green."
Fortunately, she has a good sense of humor and didn't
seem upset at my untimely remark. But it set me to thinking
I don't like to have students put green on their palette
for the reason given above.
There's another consideration. A painting is a composition.
It involves choice. Confronted with a landscape which
is all green, you may consider ways to relieve that
intense color. Find something straw-colored or sand-colored
or find a house painted white-something to relieve that
unmitigated green. Blue sky won't do it. (Too close
For example, look at a color wheel. If you want to work
with a green painting, balance it with the other colors
in the triad. For example, green, orange and purple
are the secondary colors on the color. You wouldn't
(probably) want to use all at full intensity. Modify
your green, using only some at full intensity and try
using accents of dulled or lightened orange and dulled
or lightened purple as part of the composition.
Green is a very strong, dominating color. If you look
around outside where I live in summer, you are surrounded
with green. But if you look closely, you will begin
to distinguish subtle differences in shade. I have a
strong suspicion that photographs "normalize"
color and so lose these subtle differences. So, if you
are one of those painters who, by force or choice, works
from photos, you may have the impression that there
IS only one green to a landscape.
Even so, it's not Phthalo green (which is too "mint"
in color). It's not even Viridian Green. Chrome Oxide
Green (opaque) and Sap green (a delicate transparent
green) used to be two of my favorite colors for landscape.
Shown below is a scan of an exercise I did some time
ago, comparing various "tube" greens that
were in my studio. You can see that you have considerable
choice, and, if you want to use tube green in your painting,
go ahead, but use some of the many that you can get
from the store, not just one or two. (Note: the exercise
shows the color "from the tube" on the far
left, and then blended with white to the middle. Then,
there is a sample of the color with a glazing medium,
showing how it would apply transparently.)
Still, I would prefer that artists and art student
use green sparingly, judiciously. Landscape green is
often a lighter, more sour green (in areas of light)
or a darker, more somber color (in shade).
Another point that I would make: those who use tube
green often lighten and darken with white and black.
And this dulls the green. It is better, if you use green,
to lighten with yellow or yellow ochre and darken with
red or brown.
I include here several ways to mix interesting greens.
You can come up with more.
|Thalo (or Phthalo) Blue and Cadmium
Yellow light (or Hansa yellow) make a very bright,
full intensity green. I wouldn't use much of this
in a landscape. It's overpowering.
|Thalo blue and yellow ochre make a
more subtle green. That's because yellow ochre is
yellow with a little red and blue mixed in.
|Notice that Thalo green, lightened
with white, gives a cool green, but mixed with Cadmium
Red and lightened, gives a greyer green. Cadmium
red is a complementary color to Thalo.
|Ultramarine blue, mixed with Cadmium
yellow, will produce a more sour green than Thalo
and Yellow because Ultramarine is a cooler blue.
|Ultramarine blue mixed with Yellow
Ochre produces an almost brown or muddy color
|It's interesting that Black mixed
with Yellow will produce a sort of green. This would
be an interesting green to use in some field of
|Notice the Thalo green with Cadmium
yellow produces too minty a green, but mix a little
Alizarin Crimson with it and it's more satisfactory
for landscape use.
|And Permanent Green mixed with Burnt
Umber produces those deep shadows in the foliage.
You can also get this effect with green and red.
Undiluted with white, they make a good black. Diluted
with white, they produce a wonderful range of greys.
Well, these are just some demos. I recommend that you
experiment. These are offered from my experience and
viewpoint and shouldn't invalidate the use of tube colors,
I recently found that an artist I admire, Jeff Hayes,
sets out some 72 colors on his palette every time he
starts to paint! (Of course, he's not out in the field,
but is painting still lifes.)
Pam Coulter Blehert