Most colors in nature are much more subtle than one first imagines. When painting skin tones, blues and greens are important undertones. When painting one of nature’s most prominent colors, green, the variety becomes infinite.
Interestingly, few colors have inspired so many similes, metaphors, verses and theories. Green has come to represent envy, money, nature, ecology, fertility, rebirth and much more. We speak of the village green, eating your greens, a greenhorn, The Greening of America 1970.
Here are four of my works where a variety of greens were required: Judi at Point Lobos (acrylic), Looking South from Big Sur (acrylic), Ellie Among the Poppies (acrylic), and Moonstone Beach (watercolor). Each required carefully looking to to convey the "greens" I saw. There are numerous shades, tints and tones for every color. Ask anyone who has sought the right lipstick!
One of the first signs of an inexperienced painter can be using colors right out of the tubes, especially primary or Kelly green. Unless you reside on the Emerald Isle or a golf course (where the green of the grass is really shades away from Kelly), this fresh bright green is hard to find.
As you can see below, I began this week mixing and labeling color. I usually intuitively mix paint without a lot of thinking, but to explain where color comes from, this may prove helpful. Naturally, one would first mix a variety of blues with yellows to achieve green. Adding oranges and ocres to blues creates more muted tones. One of the most surprising blends is yellow plus black which will yield a green shade. There is controversy among painters as to whether one should use black, but I feel it has its place. I often avoid it and use a dark ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and viridian to create a lively "black."