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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Magic of Green Pastels

'Summer Magic'         16x20          pastel           ©Karen Margulis
painting available $275 purchase here
 Greens can make us crazy!  Pastel artists can't really mix our own greens so we have to have a variety of green pastels in our collection.  (we can adjust our greens somewhat...more on this in another post)  Our green collection grows as we discover the limitations of our basic pastel sets.

  • We learn that the vivid artificial looking greens in the basic beginner sets can be too garish for believable landscapes.
  • We realize that in order to create depth (aerial perspective) in our landscapes we need a variety of warm, cool and neutral green pastels. We also need a range of values. Basic sets often only include mostly middle value bright greens. 
  • With practice we start to see the difference between warm, cool, intense and dull and we begin to understand where to use them. At first we may not see it. I know I didn't. Green was green and I couldn't understand why we would want (and covet) a full set of Terry Ludwig Greens!  But lots of practice has developed my sensitivity to green and I would LOVE that full set.

Having the right greens and using them in the right place can result in magic! I learned this first hand on my Iceland trip. I didn't have the right greens in my travel box!

'Emergence II'    8x10  plein air pastel     $150
Iceland was very lush and green. But I didn't anticipate just how cool those lush greens would be. I had my usual very limited travel set and my Gogh Box. I didn't have a lot of pastels so my selection of greens was limited. I just didn't have the right greens. I had a variety of light, middle and dark greens and a couple of cooler greens. But overall my greens were warmer yellowy greens.

I was in Iceland with no art store nearby so I had to make due with what I had. I was able to capture the values in my plein air studies but would have to wait until I got home to reinterpret these studies with a better selection of green. It was a valuable lesson!

Look at the difference the greens can make in a painting. The larger painting at the top is my studio painting. I used the smaller study as a reference and changed the selection of greens to better represent the lushness I saw.

I invite you to read my travelog about my trip to Iceland complete with photos and paintings. Links to each chapter can be found on my Pinterest board here. 


Sandi Graham Pastels said...

I'm sure if there was a way to cool the greens you had with you you would have.
Is there a way to layer the green with some blues or violets to cool warmer greens.
I like both paintings . Hope you will have time to answer my question.thankyou, Karen.

Karen said...

Good question Sandi! Yes it is possible to cool greens as you suggest but in thinking back on the painting done on location I wasn't thinking that was a very volatile changing weather ...wind, cold, rain....and brief respite. It was all I could do to get an impression down on the paper. Taking time to evaluate how I could have achieved the exact green wasn't something I was thinking of. It was really only in hindsight that I realized just how warm I made them. It was a great learning experience for me! But the passion of the moment was captured in the study and for me that is really the most important thing!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh yeah! I get frustrated sometimes at the absence of those saturated mid greens though, for two reasons. One is that sometimes there is a manufactured object that is bright green plastic or a stop light or something that hue and it's hard to brighten a muted color.

I noticed some manufacturers create too much gap between yellow greens and blue greens, not creating the intense hues between or suddenly dropping those to extremely grayed. This can get disconcerting when I'm used to a full spectrum palette from colored pencils, where the full intensity emerald green has many uses either modified or not. CP is not as opaque so it's more like using emerald green in watercolor. A little goes a long way but I like having it as an option.

chris a said...

Great demo - your range of greens in the big pastel really give life and dimension to the painting. You've got me playing with my greens this morning - cool vs warm - a good exercise.