Artists struggle to mix green color. This is the number one color issue that gets raised by beginner artists. You may relate to this especially since tube greens never help to solve the problem. In this article and demonstration I want to offer a solution. A way for you to start seeing the true color and then mixing it accurately.
Let us discover the secret to true green color.
What Do You See?
Many of my art students live in the Northern Hemisphere in green zones. The spring and summer months produce vibrant greens. In fact the countryside is a mass of green in one shade or another. One student asked me to mix Vermont green. You must understand how all encompassing the green zone must look to these artists.
Things go wrong when you think of green in traditional terms. For the most part this version of green is a cool to cold color. Lots of blue and some yellow make a strong green. If you use this version of green for a sunny meadow or trees you are looking for trouble. Then the shadows become an even stronger cool green. The result is one big cold green painting.
Using green from a tube does not help since most of these colours are cold too. The warm tube greens are acid yellow/greens and look odd in these landscapes.
The critical skill to develop is to observe the color closely and ask yourself is it warmer or cooler than the next color.
On top of this visual change is a temperature change. The only way to make green look warm in sunlight is to add a warm color like yellow or orange. So instead of struggling to mix a green, think of adapting a yellow shade to look like sun kissed green.
Stock Photos Confuse Us
Sometimes stock photos are manipulated too far. Okay for photographers, but a problem for artists trying to get green accurate. Instead look at your own surroundings and show the green for what it really is.
In the video below I try to illustrate the difference between what is really there and what we think we see. You will notice that sunny greens are mostly yellow and cool shady greens are mostly blue. Stick to that approach and you will not go wrong.
What Colors to Use for Green
Try to have a palette with warm and cool primary colors.
Cerulean blue or cobalt
Titanium white to tint value and adjust temperature too.
With those colors you will be able to mix every green you see in nature. African summer greens are yellow ochre mostly. In Europe it will be a yellow dominated green in summer. Dark greens may look more orange in sunlight. Remember that in Europe many greens turn warmer as Autumn approaches.
Evergreen trees on the other hand will be a deeper blue in shade and orange green in sunlight. The bright greens like cadmium green need to be extensively modified. I avoid them entirely.
Control Acid Greens
If you mix cerulean blue and lemon yellow to get a vibrant bright green you may be surprised by how acid green it can look. You may throw in more white, but then it instantly looks pastel. Instead use white sparingly. Rather put a touch of red into the mix. This will cancel out the intense green hue. But only a tiny amount of red. Too much and you may end up with yellow ochre or olive drab.
If you do add too much you can add yellow and blue back to balance the colors out again. This is the important thing to remember about mixing any paint color. You can usually restore the correct balance by adding the missing colour. Need the green darker and cooler? Add more blue. Need the green warmer and sunnier? Add more yellow and perhaps a tiny amount of white.
Practice Your Mixing
When you are learning about colour use a palette knife and practice mixing clean color notes. Wipe off the palette knife frequently to avoid contaminating your colours. When this becomes a habit you will be doing the same thing with your brushes. Wiping them clean between brushstrokes and making clean color notes. The result will be beautiful, clean and vibrant color.
Find out more about how to mix the correct color temperature here.
Limited Palette of Colors
Another vital tip is to use a small palette of color. If your colors are mixed from a small batch of colors you will see a natural harmony overall. Your chances of creating dull or muddy color is reduced. So too is the likelihood of discordant color notes clashing on the canvas. Since all the mixes are from the same source the harmony is practically guaranteed. Finally you will have learned the secret to quick and accurate color mixing.
Learn to Paint with Impact
My foundation painting course will teach you the essentials to color mixing. Find out more and claim your discount too.
Pin for Later