Practice mixing greens

green landscape study Jul 11 2019
Color study, 5×9 oil on canvas

This is a scene I did a study of previously, and I wanted to take another crack at it with some compositional adjustments and different palette colors. I’ve been studying mixing greens for the past couple of months by exploring different mixing approaches, and thought it would be fun to see how my methods are evolving.

I’m also working on making my colors less intense. After trying to figure out what was off about a recent study, I realized that a couple of things were going on: my colors were too saturated, and there wasn’t color harmony. It’s no coincidence that this occurred shortly after expanding my palette with a slew of new tube colors!

When I started with oil paints, I just used a red, yellow, and blue plus white to mix everything. Slowly I’ve been enticed by all of the other fantastic colors that so many artists find useful on their palettes. And have been struggling to keep them under control. So I’m thinking it might be a good time to reduce my palette again and get back to basics until I have more experience working with them. One tip I’ve read is to get comfortable mixing one limited set of colors, then slowly add in additional colors one at a time to incorporate them and maintain harmony.

For this landscape study, I used a limited palette that reflected the main colors in the scene and would give me options for neutralizing:

  • a mix of viridian + transparent earth red, gradated to a middle value with cadmium yellow light, then with white to the lightest value
  • alizarin permanent gradated to white
  • transparent earth red gradated to white
  • ultramarine blue gradated to white

I’m happy with the way the colors harmonized in this study. And working with this set palette helped me think in terms of warmer or cooler rather than trying to match a specific color. I’m working on exploring the way colors change depending on what’s around them, and how I can control temperature and intensity to influence those relationships.