You are standing out on location with a luscious stand of trees in front of you and you ask, “How do I mix these dull natural-looking greens?” What are your first thoughts? Do you know which yellow and blue to choose? Or do you want to use a tube green?
A couple of color mixing choices are:
- Mixing a tube green, such as viridian or sap green with its complement.
- Mixing a variety of dull natural-looking greens with your yellows and blues.
In the on-going debate—to use tube greens versus mixing with yellows and blues—I hail from the latter school of thought.
How to Mix Dull Natural-Looking Greens:
As a review from previous blogs, I am a champion of using a Balanced Palette™. This palette is made up of six purposefully chosen primary colors as displayed below. These six paints make it possible to mix almost any color you want. Click Why is Color Bias Key to Mixing Color? to learn more.
When you look at this Balanced Palette color wheel, you can see the obvious leanings of each primary. In other words, the yellows include a green-yellow and an orange-yellow, the reds include an orange-red and a violet-red and the blues include a violet-blue and a green-blue. None of them are pure primary colors. [By the way, you can mix a more pure primary just by mixing the two primaries of of a hue family on your working palette. For example, mix the orange-red with the violet-red, and a lovely red emerges. No additional tubes of red are necessary.]
Because of these particular yellows and blues, it is easy to mix dull natural-looking greens. When an orange-yellow (#1) is mixed with a violet-blue (#4), there is a little bit of red in each of these, and red is the complement of green.
When a yellow and a blue carry a pair of complementary colors within them, the resulting green is dulled or de-saturated. Below is an example of such a mixture using cadmuim yellow and ultramarine blue. I adjusted the ratios of yellow and blue to create a variety. Are they not dull natural-looking greens?
I applied a full range of these greens in both of these paintings. Can you guess which yellow and blue I used for the bright spring like greens in the painting below?
Next, you need to determine if you own an orange-yellow and a violet-blue that will achieve the greens you want. There are many choices in every medium. Experiment to find out which you prefer. You can also create a chart of your paints, as described in my post How to be Intimate with Your Colors &Why.
In my humble opinion, I believe these greens are more interesting for the viewer and more fun for the painter. Which yellows and blues will you explore?
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Gratefully and colorfully yours,