Mixing Greens part 1

By Armand Cabrera

People always ask me about mixing greens for my landscape paintings. Some people have trouble with the color green. The biggest problems are inappropriate saturation and hue.  Many times artists get their green too blue shifted for landscape painting. There is this old myth that green paintings don’t sell. I know this to be untrue because I sell them all the time. I would change the old myth to this “bad green paintings don’t sell. “

Here are some things you can do to keep your greens lively and believable.

Mix your greens from yellow and blue and don’t squeeze it from a tube. This is the fastest way to learn how to mix pleasing greens especially if you use a limited palette like the three primary colors or a warm and cool of each primary only. These palette restrictions will force you to make choices about how to depict the greens you see in the landscape. What you will quickly discover is how to make colors that appear green relative to your other color choices in the painting.

Think of green as a color key for the whole landscape that way you will paint variations on a theme of green with some being darker, some  lighter, and some shifted all along the spectrum of color but still effectively green. Side by side they would appear more red, yellow, blue, orange, or purple in comparison to each other but when isolated way from other greens they would still retain their green hue relative to other hues.

Look for opportunities to introduce color harmonies into your painting in the appropriate places to help add interest to your greens.  If used in a thoughtful, deliberate way this can be very effective and increase the sense of complexity to your color masses.
All images by Armand Cabrera

7 thoughts on “Mixing Greens part 1

  1. A,

    If you have black on your palette, then mixing with yellow makes nice warm green in comparison to the blue yellow mixtures. I don't usually include black on my palette but when I do it is to give me more range for my green mixes.

  2. Thanks, Armand. I've been making my greens by mixing ultramarine or cerulean blue with cad yellow lt or cad yellow deep. The trick with cad yellows is that there seem to be variations in hue between different brands and you have to be consistent to maintain the harmony.

  3. Apologies for this slightly off topic point, but I often have an issue mixing the correct shade of blue in skies.
    When I`m outdoors and begin painting, I invariably start with the sky and mix and mix and mix until I have a range of large mixes of different blue piles on my palette.
    It`s usually mornings or afternoons though, so perhaps the sky really has changed by the time I`ve mixed it to the color I thought it was!
    Still, for me there seems to be some problems reaching the blue I`m really seeing.

  4. OH,

    Skies don't have as much color as most people assume. If you look at most landscape paintings the portion of the sky that is visible in the painting is only the very bottom of the horizon. This usually contains little or no blue in it from dust and haze. It is more important to get the value right and make sure you don't try including the complete vault of the sky from zenith to horizon.

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