I admit it, I struggle with the color green. Don’t know why, just do. The first step of revovery is to admit you have a problem, right? So, as I would with any problem, I need to practice and study to fix it. This is a study in greens I did the other day. It was an “etch-a-sketch” study, in that I painted it, wiped it off, and did it again.  Never be afraid to wipe a painting.

Do you have any advice?  Do you have problems with greens too?

Greens Study

Greens Study – Oil on Linen – 12×9


9 thoughts on “Studying Greens

  1. First, let me say that I wish I could do plein air with your acumen. And, this green study works very well and I like it.
    On the subject of greens, I once did an all green landscape, which was a companion to the work that’s up today on my site. Unfortunately, my photo of it is awful, so It will never be seen again, unless I follow up with the owner and re-photograph it.
    I think that “the man” for green works today is Albert Handell, who lives down in your neck of the woods. Have a study of his stuff, which is what gave me the idea to do an all green work.
    My only wisdom on greens is to de-emphasize temperature for a while, and instead, consider intensity of hue. I even have a separate tray in my pastel palette for the intense greens.
    Another thought that I believe I have tried in the past is to do some landscapes with no green whatsoever. It may have a lesson for us about green’s nature as an abstract color, not so much as the local color of a tree.

  2. really enjoy your blog Ed,so much good info and wonderfull paintings

    when i paint a green scene i find i don’t use enough yellow,re and orange,so giving the whole canvas an undertone/wash with any of these colors(compliments)helps me to overcome this problem.
    cheers Rob

  3. Decker Walker says:

    Two thoughts basically from the Russian painter, Boris Kokhno.

    1. variety of greens to avoid monotony
    For a given tree or bush, mix the lit part independently of the shaded part and the midtone. Start each from a different base green color (veridian, thalo, Payne’s Grey + Cad Yellow,…). For the next area of foliage, adjust for distance, etc. and again mix lights, darks, and midtones independently

    2. observe temperature relationships in light and shade religiously
    If the light is warm, all lit parts should be painted in warm colors and all shaded parts in cool colors, and vice versa.

    I’m trying and it seems to help.

  4. Decker, Your advice about using different combinations of base colors to seperate out the light and dark side of an object (green, in this case) is very consistent with the “Charles Hawthorn” school, at taught by Camille Przwodeck. I have done paintings with this technique in mind to great effect. I need to get back to that. All too often i find myself in a rush with the light, and simply add white/yellow to a dark

    BTW, the that happens to be Ken Auster’s technique. He’ll start with piles of darks representing the shaded side of ojbects, then add white and a little yellow to represent the light side.

  5. You greens are good Ed, I think you are just using a tad to much of them. Less is more, let more complements come out next to them and consider eliminating them from distance elements, defuse them from everywhere but the center of interest. Green and yellow can really attract the eye so we need to be sparing with them in their purest form. I been so happy since I’ve learned to control my subjects and not always paint what I see, but what works in balance in the picture. The riot of color in nature has to be controlled in the human mind or it will dominate us with to much information. Even the best painters can let green dominate them. Sergi Bongart comes to mind. He’s my hero, but a painting or two in his book are out of control with the greens. Other times he’s so right on with them…

  6. William, couldn’t agree with you more re Serge Bongard. In fact, as I recall the boook on his work that came out a few years ago has a discussion about his greens. I studied with Ovanes Berberian last summer (and plan again this June), who was Serge’s last assistant and student. Ovanes focuses on temperature changes to make his greens work.

    I am in the Sierrs this weekend, and did a couple more studies.

  7. Don Wienand says:

    Well, greens are realy a problem I know:)
    I used to just “brake” them with black !
    But sometimes its realy hard to say if that green in the shade is “warm” or “cold”?
    The Eye seems to be very sensitive on that color.
    To much color is always dangerouse i think ?

  8. You’re right, Don, Black actually works great to calm greens down. I know Ken Auster mixes black and cad yellow light to make his dark greens, and they harmonize beautifully. I think I see to cool, and when I look back at older paintings, I can see the greens needed to be warmer and are usually too raw. There’s definitely something to be said for calming your greens.

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