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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dealing with Green in a Pastel Painting

'Feeling the Peace'         6x12          pastel     ©Karen Margulis  sold
Green is upon us here in the Southeast.  We live in the Land of Green here in Georgia and I look forward to my trip to the Southwest for a little relief from all the green.  Don't get me wrong. I love our landscape. I love all of the variety of trees and flowers, the rolling hills covered in green. But it is a challenge to paint.

It really hit home at the Elizabeth Mowry workshop. It seemed that many of the artists expressed the same thoughts about the challenge of dealing with green.  Over the last few years I have gathered tips about green that have helped me. I have blogged about many of them but thought it would be timely to just sum up some of my favorite tips and techniques for painting green landscapes.  These are not all my ideas but tips I have gathered from reading and studying with other artists.

My Green Chart

  • Take stock of the green pastel you have. It is best if you can put all of your greens together. I like to organize my pastels by color and value so I have a green section. This allows me to see them all together and better judge the value and temperature of each green compared to one another.
  • I take this a step further and make a chart showing my greens from lighter and cooler to warmer and more intense. This helps me achieve better atmospheric perspective.
  • Make sure your greens include some cooler blue greens to warmer yellow greens. You also need some grayed down neutral greens.
  • The green pastels that come in many introductory landscape sets tend to be very much middle value and often bright pure greens.  These greens can be too intense almost garish in a landscape. I like them but reserve their use to smaller areas....I consider them my spices. Be sure to supplement these greens with grayer more neutral greens.
  • That being said....it is nice to have some bright artificial looking greens to use in small doses....again like a spice.
  • Richard McKinley tells us the secret of green is orange and violet is the friend. So True!!!  I like to introduce some oranges to red and some violets into my green landscapes. These colors provide relief from all of the green and makes them more interesting
  • I introduce these colors to green in either the underpainting or in building up the layers of pastels.
This is just a few of my random thoughts on dealing with green. I hope that you find them helpful!


Liz said...

Karen, your blogs always seem to answer the specific questions I have. I was just wishing (and searching) for a chart like this that would help me sort out my greens. Now here it is. Thanks!

Karen said...

You're welcome! It is my pleasure. I love hearing that my posts are helpful! Thank you!

Alice Sheridan said...

My teacher always taught me to mix greens rather than buy them to give more subtlety. Of course we can't do that with pastel or any other colour sticks. Adding orange or violet is a great idea and so is preparing a colour chart first- great tip!