Friday, October 30, 2009


Here are some tubes of Lefranc. I think if you are buying paint in tubes this is the best brand for the money. However their viridian is strangely expensive, I am not sure why, the rest of their line is very reasonable and it is great paint. I use RGH for everything except I use Lefranc white. I may have caused a run on Lefranc white because both Jerrys and ASW are sold out, but they will restock.

Last night I discussed tubed greens, tonight I will return to mixing greens. As I am certain you know the general recipe for mixing greens is to add yellow to blue.
There are about four or five blues that I an likely to have around, though not all at once. They are
  • ultramarine
  • pthalocyanine
  • Prussian
  • cobalt
  • and ivory black
Ivory black? yep, When I am working on my restricted earth color palette that's my blue. In order for that to work though the painting has to be very warm. With the rest of my earth color palette that is assured anyway. I am going to mix and match those blues with these yellows:

  • yellow ocher, or gold ocher
  • cad yellow light, or pale
  • cad yellow medium I don't put this on my palette or............
  • cad yellow deep, but I have em around if I need them
  • mars yellow This is a sort of super ocher, You would have this instead of the ochers up top
  • I never use them but there are azo yellows and permanent yellows etc. that you might have.
I tend to prefer the gold ocher to the yellow ocher, it is just what it sounds like, a yellower version of ocher. I like its being a little yellower, particularly if I am making my greens out of ivory black alone. It gives a little greener hue. That green, is of course only green compared to the rest of the painting. In a painting containing a strong pthalo green it would merely appear gray. Every color in a painting appears the way it does because of everything else in the painting.

Taking the blues from the top, I use the ultramarine more and more with either ocher or more commonly cadmium yellow light. That gives a good workhorse green. Once I would have used viridian but this is grayer and I like that. My first choice combination for making greens is now this. I try to use a number of different greens in most paintings though. A great variety will carry you through an overly green painting.

I can make a bright naturalistic green in the summer landscape with either the Pthalo or the Prussian, and cadmium yellow. This green can get real oppressive in a hurry. It will need to be modified or "stepped on".

Prussian blue is probably not something you will use because pthalo has largely replaced it. It is already slightly green and I like that about it. It makes a set of greens that have a particular look to them. I see it in a lot of paintings from the first half of the 20th century. John Carlsons paintings seem to be full of these greens. Like the pthalo, Prussian makes a lot of greens that are very assertive and they will often have to be toned down.

I don't use cobalt all that much , but I usually have it with me. About twenty years ago I used to work on a three color palette containing cobalt blue, cadmium yellow light and genuine rose madder. I made all of my greens out of cobalt. They had a delicacy to them that I liked and were not too electric as can sometimes happen with pthalo or even viridian. Sometimes I will make cobalt based greens when I have exhausted the possible greens I can make with my other colors and I want yet another green variation, say in a garden where each of the plants could be characterized by a different green.

I suggest that you experiment with the blue and yellow combination's you can make from your palette on a piece of leftover canvas or panel and keep it around to look at . You need to know all the different greens you can make.

Tomorrow I will talk about stepping on them. Making all those different greens is only half the solution to the problems of handling the most common color in the landscape, at least most of the year.

4 comments:

Jeremy Elder said...

Good stuff. According to your suggestions, I guess I have been mixing greens pretty well, which is surprising. Either way, it is nice to get some confirmation to what I have been doing.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jeremy:
Thanks, I am not finished yet, maybe after tonight you will hang your head in shame, who knows?
...........Stape

mariandioguardi.com said...

I know landscape painters who live and (maybe die) by Sap Green. Of course the actual Sap Green color varies brand to brand. Do you not use it because you can mix it with a green,a red and an ocher or something on that order. Or do you not use it because it is useless?

I am still trying to figure my landscape pallet for greens. It's easy though when I am painting blueberry barrens in the fall. No Green!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Maraian:
So far as I know sap green isn't made any more. There is an imitation made from thalo and whatnot that is nothing like the real stuff of old. Not even close to the same color.

I avoid colors that are not a single pigment, true color, at least most of the time.
........Stape