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Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Tip for Painting Summer Greens

'Summertime'          8x10      pastel      ©Karen Margulis
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I live in the 'Land of Green'.  The Southeast is a beautiful part of the country especially if you like green.  In the summer you will find every shade of green in the hills and trees. It can be a challenge to paint the summer landscape and make some sense of all the green. Of course with pastels we never think we have the right green no matter how many pastels we have. I encourage my students to find ways to make the greens they do have work for them. I'd like to share my favorite tip...Lay out your greens before you start painting.

The palette I used for 'Summertime'
I always lay out all of the colors I will use in a painting before I start. I like to have a starting point with my color choices. I may add or take away during the painting process but I always keep the pastels I am using separate.
In the photo above you can see I have set aside some darks, some sky colors and some hay bale colors. I have also pulled my greens. I take the greens a step further and line them up as best I can by value and temperature.  This helps me when I start painting a green landscape.
 I know that generally the greens are cooler and lighter in the distance and get warmer and more intense as they come towards the foreground (there are always exceptions but this is true a good bit of the time)  Now when I start painting the greens I can more easily see the cooler vs warmer and darker vs lighter greens.
 When your green pastels are mixed in with all of your other colors it is harder to judge what kind of green it is. Putting them all together helps you see the temperature and value more easily. Now I can paint my meadows and trees more intuitively without having to hunt for the 'right' green.

My chart of meadow colors
We all have different brands of pastels and so our green collections are all different. I made a chart of my greens so I could see if I had enough variety of cool vs warm and light vs dark and greyed greens vs more intense greens. It was a great exercise in seeing and it helped me see where I was lacking in greens. Sometimes we have trouble deciding if a color is warm or cool. What I do is take a really yellow green one that is obviously warm. Then take your pastel and hold it up to this warm green. Ask yourself if this pastel seems to lean more to blue or to yellow. The more blue you see the cooler the green. Comparing a stick to one you are sure of will help.  I encourage you to make a chart of your greens and try a green painting!  There are other tips for painting a green landscape which I will share in another post.

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Laurentia said...

Karen, thank you for your tip of the day: I wish that i will use it better because the choice of Green Is actually precisely my problem

Karen said...

You're welcome Laurentia! I hope that it is a helpful tip! I will be adding to it soon!

katybee said...

Karen, I"ve been enjoying your blog so much. You have great tips and explain things very clearly.

I too live in land of green (VT) and this post was especially useful this time of year. Laying out the greens first and seeing the range is a great idea. And obviously worked very successfully for you in this painting. Lovely.

Thanks for all your hard work and sharing of information. I look forward to your posts.