Mixing Greens Part 4


Armand Cabrera

I’ve covered mixing greens for landscape paintings in earlier posts but I still have some advice that can help you capture the greens of spring and summer and make successful paintings.

When you have a painting that has one color that dominates the image design becomes essential. When you restrict your color choices you must find other ways to add interest. Design becomes more important to the success of your painting.

One way to add design is using a series of rhythmic shapes and weave them through the painting. Rhythmic not repetitive, repetitive shapes call too much attention to pattern while rhythmic shapes have similar qualities of shape but are not exact copies. Their attributes change over the sequence to create movement and flow. You do this by changing the size, direction of the marks and their shape slightly from one stroke to the next.

Another way is to use paint calligraphy varying the qualities and thickness of the paint from thin passages that just stain the canvas with color to areas of thick impasto that pull the eye toward them.

Varying the level of detail is another effective tool for an artist. The center of interest can be controlled and information rich while less important areas can be simplified to represent just their essential characteristics.

The last thing to do is allow the painting to have some counterpoint to the overall color of the image, In a green landscape painting this could be the shadow colors, the sky or some other feature that is designed to break up the greens while retaining the superficial sense that what you are viewing is a green landscape.

Mixing Greens part 5


Armand Cabrera

Summer is here. It’s not just the excessive heat and oppressive humidity and proliferation of insect life that we have to deal with. Once again and many people are dealing with summer greens. I’ve covered this subject quite a bit in earlier posts and while those ideas may overlap with some presented here, I think there is always something to add to these types of discussions.


When I teach, the biggest problem I see with people painting a monochromatic landscape is artists ignore the forms of objects robbing their subject of some of its subtle diversity. Light and shadow are always important but especially in a monochromatic setting.

A limited color setting turns the focus to other painting aspects. It raises the importance of lighting (value) and shape (design). It becomes more about how you organize what you are seeing. This is because we can rarely mimic with any accuracy the visual range presented to us in nature. With less variety the limitations of pigment become exaggerated. Remember careful choices in subjects will lead to better painting outcomes.


Whenever you have areas of light and shadow in a painting you have an opportunity to introduce color shifts relative to the surrounding area by paying attention to all of the aspects of color, hue, value, chroma and relative temperature. It is possible to tease out more interest from a subtle painting, heightening its impact. Bright sunny days will give you a greater range of value for your contrast overcast or cloudy days will give you more chance for subtle shifts.
Shape and pattern help add interest in monochromatic paintings when the colors are subtle and similar. When you are using patterns, think about using small shapes against big shapes varying your brushwork accordingly. Large marks against smaller tighter marks and hard edges and against softer ones.


The concept should drive your choices for the painting. Design helps to decide on the approach to the subject and composition is your arrangement and editing of the pieces. Together they all allow for something that permits you to capture the unique essence of that time and place on canvas.