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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pastel FAQ: How Do I Paint the Greens of Summer?

'Counting Sheep'        8x10        pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $165
The land of green is even greener than usual! We have had plenty of rain in North Georgia and the green in the landscape is at its peak!  I seem to be painting a lot of green paintings perhaps influenced by the time of year. So I have been dealing with the challenge of green.  One of the challenges we have when painting landscapes with an abundance of green is how to make the green more interesting....how do we tame the green?

The key to successful greens is to introduce other colors into the green masses. I like to remind myself of the following....

"If it is green and growing then there needs to be some dirt"   

This reminds me to paint the green stuff by layering 'dirt' colors such as reds, yellows, violets with the green. These colors add interest to the green masses but also bring them to life and make them feel more believable and filled with light. Read on to see how I put this idea into action.

My drawing with a 305 Nupastel on Yi Cai paper
 My scene is a summer meadow in Sweden. It was incredibly green. On first glance the only other color I saw were the white sheep in the distance. If I looked closely though I could see bits of gold and orange peeking through all of the green grass. Perhaps some dried grass or bits of the earth. I know I would have to exaggerate these first colors to add interest to this very green scene.

For my initial underpainting or block in I decided to use Nupastels and rub in with some pipe insulation foam for a soft dry wash. I selected the dark blue spruce 305 for the trees, pale blue and cream for the sky and some wonderful earthy ochre and dull orange for my DIRT.

The first layer rubbed into the paper
Pushing the pastel into the paper for this first layer allows me to build the rest of the painting with several layers of green. I am careful not to cover all of my dirt colors with green!
The painting also needed a little violet dirt. So I used a few muted purples in a few areas of the grass and trees. Click to enlarge the photos to see the violet.

up close and personal
TIP: When painting green in the landscape move beyond the local colors of green and introduce dirt colors....red, pinks, oranges, yellows and violets. These colors can be put down in the underpainting or as you layer and build the masses of green.

I like to think of DIRT when I paint green but I will never forget a lesson I learned from Richard McKinley who tells us the secret of green is orange and violet is the friend.

There is science behind this secret and you can read all about it in Richard's Pastel Pointer column here:http://www.artistsnetwork.com/medium/pastel/painting-greens


Linda Kriegel said...

I love how you teach! I understand it. It makes me want to experiment more. Thank you for your time. I want to be a better artist and with your help, learning more every single day!

J Rafn said...

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the world.