Greener greens

I read this quote from Pablo Picasso the other day:

They’ll sell you thousands of greens. Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium green and any sort of green you like, but that particular green, never!

Pablo Picasso

And yes there are plenty of greens available to buy. Some of these can be useful, but many are just “not right” for use straight from the tube. They tend to look false and harsh, especially when you are using them to paint the landscape.

So what is the alternative? How can we paint all those greens?
I think there are two things we can do – we can buy a manufactured green in a tube and then mellow it down a bit with another colour, or we can mix our own from blue and yellow. With either of these approaches we are on to a winner! We can then make any green we want. We can make that particular green!

Let me give you some examples:

Here I’ve used viridian straight from the watercolor pan. It’s such a strong and unnatural green that you might think it would be dangerous to use in a landscape. But all you need to do is to add a tiny amount of an earth colour to it and you create some amazing and transparent greens, perfect for foliage! I added burnt sienna in differing amounts (warning – you don’t need much!), to make the greens in the first column, and I added a little raw sienna (you could use yellow ochre for the same effect) to the viridian to make the greens in the right hand column. What great colours!

Now let’s have a go at making our own greens with blue and yellow.

In this example I used ultramarine blue and then added small amounts of raw sienna (an earth yellow), or cadmium yellow, or lemon yellow.

And here is cerulean blue with the same three yellows added.

You can take control of your greens! And you can make an infinite variety of them to suit any mood or scene you are painting. So please don’t run around looking to buy that particular green! You can make it yourself from the paints you already have!

If you are interested in finding out more about colour mixing and how I control my colours, then you might want to check out my online colour mixing course which you can find here: Learn the secret of succesful color mixing (How to get the colour you want every time you paint).

Happy painting!

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