Mixing Greens Part 3

Armand Cabrera
Spring is officially, if not actually here for most of the country and I thought I would talk about green paintings again.  To read my first posts on tackling green in the landscape go here.
I am going to talk about a philosophical approach to painting green which is a little different from my other posts on the subject. While this approach works for any type of painting it is particularly helpful when you are dealing with scenes that are very monochromatic in nature. Let’s talk about what can make green look different to the viewer.
Local color
The actual hue can be different between different groups of flora this just requires a little observation to confirm.
The color of the Lighting
Light coloring is a little trickier. The color of direct, ambient and reflected light can alter the appearance of greens that have the same local color.
Light Direction
It’s not just the color of the lighting that affects the appearance of things; it’s also the direction of that lighting. One of the properties of plants is their translucency which raises the saturation of the color.The angle of light will affect the hue and chroma of the green you are seeing.
Add these situations together and you can see it requires careful observation. In my opinion painting is not mimesis and good painting reveals a truth to the observer. The artist chooses the important aspects of a scene to arrive at a statement. It is that process of selection and simplification that creates a powerful artistic point of view.  Ignoring the subtle and finer effects lessens the impact of a painting. This has nothing to do with details and minutia and everything to do with sensitivity.
A good way to quickly determine some of these points is to approach viewing the landscape with the idea of geometric planes. In a broad sense the geometry of the scene in relation to the angle of the light determines how the light affects things. Add the information you have from the color of the light and the local color of objects and you have a fair starting point for deeper observation.
 Start with the lighting; this gives you a quick idea of the scene, front lighting, form lighting, rim lighting and back lighting. Then look for the division between light and shadow. Next you have the smaller divisions of ground plane, top planes, angled planes and upright planes. This underlying structure allows you to sum up the view quickly giving you more time for a more sensitive look as you paint. You are working from a broad understanding to a very refined observation of the subtle differences before you to place emphasis where it is needed.

2 thoughts on “Mixing Greens Part 3

  1. On painting green:

    Any suggestions on specific paints — colors, brands, etc. — most useful as well as the properties of each? (i.e. sap green as opposed to another choice. . .?) and while I'm thinking about it . . . .suggestions on true cad yellow lt.– I typically use Gamblin and find it harsh. . .


  2. Hi Greg,

    I mix all my greens from cad yellow med or light and Cobalt and Ultramarine. I use Winsor Newton, Utrecht,Gamblin and just started using RGH Artists oils.

    I purchase the large tubes from the different manufacturers based on availability and price comparison.
    The large tubes are getting to be harder to purchase in the more expensive colors like real cads and cobalt.

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