The wind blows from the North West and we have Winter. One week later it blows from the South and Summer is here. What a difference it makes. The monotony of green, from the painter’s perspective, is why I needed a few extra colours in this painting. The colours were: Indian Red (red), Cadmium Yellow & Yellow Ochre (yellow) and Cerulean Blue (blue). Also, Chrome Green Deep and Raw Umber. The potential for a multitude of greens in this array is enormous. Leaving aside the obvious mixes involving the Chrome Green, if you take the mixes of Cadmium Yellow with Cerulean Blue or Yellow Ochre with Cerulean Blue, these produce 2 very different greens.
In a landscape which is predominately green its important to have different versions of this colour to create structure in the painting. To paint a green tree against a backdrop of green forest is a challenge to any painter. Two greens from different sources, like Cadmium Yellow & Cerulean Blue against Yellow Ochre & Cerulean Blue, will help make the tree visible. Another interesting green can be produced by mixing blue with Raw Umber. You would expect a darker brown, but no, you get an olive green tint, nice for distant foliage. Remember, most greens straight from the tube will lack a natural look and need to be ‘calmed down’. Small amounts of a red colour will do this nicely.
Talking about different versions of green again brings up the issue of matching colour in painting a scene. I personally don’t try for accurate colour matching. Relative differences are more important. In the example above, the green tree against a green forest will need to be a ‘relatively’ different green, even if it is the same colour in reality. The reason for this is that we see the real world in 3d and the tree will be perceived closer and in front of the forest when viewed with our eyes in the real world. In the flat world of the painting we see 2d and if the tree is the same colour as the background it will be seen as part of the background. So you apply a few tricks to mimic the effect of the 3d world. For example, a warmer green looks closer than a cool green, a more vivid green looks closer than a duller green, a more contrasty tree looks closer than a tree with the lights and darks closer in tone. I would use one or all of these ‘tricks’ to paint a green tree in front of the same green forest.
The photographer might use ‘depth of field’ (a region of sharpness in front of a background of ‘out of focus’) to mimic the 3d world. I don’t like this affect in a painting as it is a ‘limitation’ of the photographic lens and not a ‘human eye’ way of seeing. I wrote about this a year ago in a post titled ‘Photography, a great resource for the painter‘.
Here is the video of this painting. The actual painting time was closer to 2 hours than 1 hour as I mistakenly mentioned in the last post. It didn’t seem like a long time painting. Some paintings are just less taxing than others.