Green ; a challenging colour to paint

PAINTING GREEN – it’s a challenge

I always think of Kermit the Frog when I think of the colour green. He sings ‘ It isn’t easy being green’ and as an artist I know, ‘ it isn’t easy painting green’. Yet as Kermit tells us, there is plus side to being green..

I paint lots of florals as you all know and I am always looking for new ways to capture them. A few years ago though I decided I didn’t want to paint any flowers only the green foliage. I thought this would be a great challenging summer project. So off I went with the intent of taking photos of only green leaves. To some that may not sound too interesting but believe me, it was a challenge. So much so I ended up taking photos of , yup, you guessed it , flowers. Then at the end of the day as I was entering my apartment building I saw a great leafy plant. So started taking shots of it. I thought, what could be easier than a plant right out side my front entrance. I could simply walk out my front door and take random shots of the plant over the summer to capture how green changes during the summer light. I already decided on a simple title for my project, ’ The Green Project’ . But a few days later I noticed these odd shaped things appearing and not knowing what type the plant was I took photos of them anyway. Then a few days later they opened to what I thought would be more leaves but, no, they were flowers. I was so disappointed . I realized I obviously could never photograph anything that didn’t have a flower in it! So I continued to take photos of this magnificent plant and the Lilies as they turned out to be and how they transformed over the long summer. I aptly renamed my project ‘ The Green and White Project – The Lily Series’. It’s a lovely group of paintings you can see on my web site

I still got to paint green though in all its glory I just had a few white lilies added in as well! But I learned how to see ‘green ‘ and how to create them. The best greens do not come out of a tube and in fact even if you do use some of those lovely greens make sure you add some yellows, or orange to them. It is interesting to see how green changes tone over the summer and how the summer light affects it at different times in the day and season. Early summer it is all about light mid tones with a brush of Naples and Cadmium Yellow middle and touches of mauve and blue. By mid summer it is all about brighter tones with lots of Cadmium Yellow Deep and then by end of summer as the light cools so do the greens, having more subtle blues and purples in it.

Challenge yourself with your own Green Project. Find one plant in your garden or on your balcony and start at 8 Am taking photos of it. Then return at noon, then 4 PM then 8 PM – Study the photos and see all the subtle gradations of tones and hues. Using 4 small canvases paint all the variations of ‘greens’ as they appeared during the day in your photos.

Happy Painting



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