Fine Art Friday: Mixing a Green Color Palette in Watercolors

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Painting | Comments


Green is everywhere in nature and every landscape or still-life painter will have to mix some greens at one point. It is important to learn how to mix some interesting and realistic looking greens in in painting in order to achieve believable landscapes.

Green Watercolor Tree Painting

Arborescences, watercolor on paper mounted on board, by Sandrine Pelissier

Here are a few tips for mixing a green color palette

  • As with most things in art, one of the main challenges is learning to see the subtle differences in the infinity of variety of greens nature has to offer. Most greens in nature are on the warm side of green, which means that you can add a warm yellow of even touches of red to warm up your green tones. Some greens that come already mixed in a tube, like Phthalo and Winsor green, are on the cold side of green and would be rarely found in nature.
  • To mix green you have the choice of mixing blue and yellow, or to start with an already mixed green and then modify it depending on what you need. Both methods will work. Personally, as I am painting a lot of landscapes and forests, I find it more convenient to start with an already mixed green. The starting green I use in most of my forest landscapes is Sap green, which is a natural looking medium tone of green. I modify it depending on the green I need by adding a bit of yellow or blue, and I can darken it with burnt sienna or Payne’s gray or neutralize it by adding a bit of orange or red.

Mixed Media Green Painting - Sun Through Trees

Princess Park, watercolor and mixed media by Sandrine Pelissier

  • When mixing green, try to avoid mixing more than three colors, that way your colors won’t be muddy.
  • Yellow ocher is a bit opaque and will make your green a bit less luminous. I still like to use it sparingly in my green mixes.
  • Mixing a color palette is useful, so that you can refer to it when painting a watercolor landscape. Basically it is a few color mixes you try on a paper and will be able to replicate as you need them.

Here are two color palettes I made with some examples of the green mixes you can achieve either by starting with a green color or by mixing it from blue and yellow.

The first palette shows the variation of greens you can obtain by starting with an already mixed green, here I used Sap green and how they look when neutralized with burnt sienna or red.

Sap Green Sap Green
Sap Green andLemon Yellow Sap Green andLemon Yellow
Sap Green andCadmium Yellow Green Color Mixes
Sap Green andCadmium orange Sap Green andCadmium orange
Sap Green andYellow Ochre Sap Green andYellow Ochre
Sap Green andPhtalo Blue Sap Green andPhtalo Blue
Sap Green andUltramarine Blue Sap Green andUltramarine Blue
Sap Green andCobalt blue Sap Green andCobalt blue
Sap Green andPermanent red Sap Green andPermanent red
Sap Green andBurnt Sienna Sap Green andBurnt Sienna

The second palette shows a variety of greens mixed from blue and yellow, and how they look when neutralized with burnt sienna or red.

 Lemon Yellow  Cadmium Yellow
 andRed andBurntSienna  andRed andBurntSienna
 Phtalo Blue Phtalo Blue & Lemon Yellow Phtalo Blue Mix 1 Phtalo Blue Mix 2 Phtalo Blue Mix 3 Phtalo Blue Mix 4 Phtalo Blue Mix 5
 Ultramarine Blue  Ultramarine Blue & Lemon Yellow  Ultramarine Blue Mix 1  Ultramarine Blue Mix 2  Ultramarine Blue Mix 3  Ultramarine Blue Mix 4  Ultramarine Blue Mix 5
 Cobalt Blue Cobalt Blue & Lemon Yellow Cobalt Blue Mix 1 Cobalt Blue Mix 2 Cobalt Blue Mix 3 Cobalt Blue Mix 4 Cobalt Blue Mix 5

 

Learn more about how to achieve ideal color combinations in Master Palettes: Exploring Color Mixing.

What color palette do you most enjoy working with?

Comments

  1. Linda Boylan says:

    everything you learn makes you a better painter.

  2. Linda Boylan says:

    everything you learn makes you a better painter.

  3. Linda Boylan says:

    everything you learn makes you a better painter.