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How does one deal with GREEN in nature?

How does one deal with GREEN in nature?

Question from JayC.

I think this is my biggest problem. Greens in nature are so varied, but I rarely stumble upon good combinations for getting the warm greens, the cool greens, the very bright greens of spring, the grey greens, etc. Any tips would be appreciated!

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy Tutor

Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin Album Cover

Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin – Album

Landscape paintings by Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin.

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shishkin-ivan-ivanovich-paintingDear Jay C.,

Many thanks for your question. You have raised a very important topic – mixing colors to achieve desired hues and tints.

I have to say that the most natural way is to “stumble upon” a good mixture. Mixing colors is a very intuitive method, using trial and error more than educated guesses and experience.

If you are serious about painting, then learning the colors of materials is essential. I would suggest reading a good book or two on color pigments, binding media, varnishes, and other art materials. You can also consult the information provided by paint manufacturers. This technical info can be rather boring, but it is invaluable for understanding various painting materials and will help you avoid numerous mistakes in mixing paints and various other techniques.

Great art comes from a talent that is based on the artist’s skills, knowledge, experience, and creativity; it does not depend on paint manufacturers. So, the question of what green colors you should use is the secondary to how you can use those paints.

There are two opposite points of view among fine artists concerning greens. One view advocates a very limited color palette, while another argues for using a wide variety of paints in one’s artwork.

Let’s start with the Old Masters. Many of them used very few paints to create masterpieces that mesmerize viewers even today. Their restricted palette reflected a limited number of pigments available at that period.

In last 150 years, however, chemists and paint manufacturers have created a huge variety of colors. That doesn’t mean that you have to buy everything that comes out of the paint factory doors, though!

Many fine artists use one or two green paints, for example Sap Green or Olive Green, and get all other greens by mixing in blue and yellow paints. Yellowish and bluish hues are achieved with different proportions of blue and yellow pigments in a mix. You can experiment with mixing, for example French Ultramarine with Lemon Yellow, ochre, or other yellows. Adding a bit of other colors will the change hue as required. It gives an infinite variety of green shades, all that you would ever need.

On the other hand, there are artists who go for a wider palette of ready-made green paints.

shishkin-ivan-ivanovichWhen talking about painting greens from nature, one fine artist above all comes to mind, a Russian landscape painter of the 19th century – Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (1832-1898).

He used an extensive range of green paints, such as Permanent Green, Veronese Green, Cobalt Green, Chrome Green, Cinnabar Green, Green Earth, Emerald Green, etc.

Shishkin also used various mixes of yellow and blue colors to achieve an even wider variety of greens.

His yellow pigments included Ochres, Cadmiums, Zink Yellow, Terre de Sienna, Indian Yellow (for glazing), and his blue pigments included Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Bleu de Ciel pigment, Prussian Blue, and Parisian Blue.

Sometimes Shishkin would add black paints into green mixes. His blacks included Ivory Black and Lamp Black.

Below, you will see some of Ivan Shishkin’s landscapes.

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

The main topics of Shishkin’s art are Russian forests, fields and meadows. His favorite time of year was summer, and he would often paint en plein air.

No artist in Russia before Shishkin studied nature from life as much and in such detail as he did, making countless sketches in oil and many long-term paintings.

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

painting by Shishkin Ivan Ivanovich

Shishkin created his art in a critical, realistic manner, depicting nature in all its glory. He painted naturalistic landscapes, treating them with the love, respect, and attention they deserved.

Kind regards,

Vladimir London
Drawing Academy Founder and Tutor

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Ben Morales-Correa says:

    I didn’t know about this Russian landscape painter, either. As for my greens, I employ Viridian Green or Cobalt Green. Both greens are, in my opinion, perfect greens in the sense that they are right in the middle of yellow and blue. They are also transparent. I prefer to mix any two of these greens with yellow ochre to change their hue and add variety in my landscape paintings. To darken, I use Mars Black or Alizarin Crimson, which is a fine complementary to any of these two greens. You can also obtain a great variety of greens by mixing black and yellow. I employ Mars Black, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White to create a verdaccio undertone for my portraits.

  2. palomod says:

    These paintings were so inspirational, unbelievable. It made me want to jump out of bed and go to my canvas. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. What talent and patience it takes to produce such mastery. Had it not be told to me some of these pieces were painting, I would have sworn they were photographs. Thanks for bringing the work of this inspirational painter to me.

  3. FD says:

    Mr Shishkin has captured creation – a wonderful gift. Thank you for introducing me to his work.
    BetR

  4. Lawrence Heyda says:

    THANK YOU!!!

    What a great pleasure it was to open up your album of gorgeous Shishkin landscapes on this beautiful Sunday morning! I had no idea he did SO MANY! This is REAL ART. Thank you so much.

    Kind regards,

    Lawrence Heyda

  5. Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor says:

    This is just a tiny fraction of Shishkin’s works. During the 40 years of his art career Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin created hundreds of paintings, thousands of studies and drawings as well as a large number of engravings.

  6. Lucy Chen says:

    Great information, Vladimir, thank you for sharing your knowledge and introducing us to Ivan Shishkin.

  7. RodrigoLeal says:

    Very interesting topic, with not many answers for everybody´s doubts, i suppose. For me, the worst colour to deal with. You have to be very creative, that´s all. I use a lot Sap & Olive greens, and Windsor Blue and Raw umber, both of them green shade (from W&N). I´m still not satisfied with my works up to date ….

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