Friday, May 22, 2009

Painting Green

So here is the painting I started last Saturday morning. It started to rain just as I finished my block-in, and I had forgotten my camera so the only other reference I was able to get was a pencil sketch. But I finished the painting on Wednesday night, and I'm actually really happy with it. Maybe not having the real subject to refer to enabled me to focus on bringing out the thing that moved me -- the cool morning backlight casting that dappled shadow below the silhouetted trees.

One thing I'm really happy with in this painting is the variety of greens. I know that painting greens in the landscape can be a big challenge, especially here in the Midwest in the summer where it is nothing but lush greens everywhere. I've asked many artists about working with green, and they've offered many good solutions, but here's what works best for me:

I use a limited palette -- not as limited as Kevin Macpherson's -- but still limited. My palette consists of Cadmium Lemon (cool), Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm), Alizarin Crimson (cool), Cadmium Red Medium (warm), Ultramarine Blue (neutral), and Titanium White (cool). I do not use any pre-mixed tube greens, like Sap or Viridian. With this palette I can mix a huge range of greens, from warm to cool, light to dark, and intense to dull. The advantages are that the greens never get garish, and because all of the greens are mixed from the same root color (the Ultramarine Blue), they always harmonize with each other.  If you're having trouble with your greens, try it - it works!

Great weather predicted for tomorrow morning's paint-out!


  1. I love this painting! Thanks for the tip on the palette. I have had great difficulty with greens and will try your limited palette. Honor

  2. Hi Jennifer

    Nice job with the greens.
    My pallette is basically
    Alizarin Crimson permanent
    Cad yellow light
    Ultramarine blue

    I add phalo green and yellow ochre seasonally,as I live in the Northeast.
    The black really isn't used for mixing (though I don't object to that) it's for my grisaille directly on my canvas.

    I started using this pallette about 4 years ago and it gives such freedom, that it's my required list for workshops that I send out.
    Meanwhile, I have a studio full of brand new, tubes of paint that I never look at !