In the first part about greens Greens part 1 – theory we learned basic information on the useful pigments and ways to modify greens, and in this post I will try to show you how it looks like in practice when I mix my greens.
Theory in practice
In short, in practice I usually do this: I look at the green that I need to get; if among the ready-made greens that I have is a similar color, which I know I can quickly and easily modify, I use it; if there is no similar green among ready-made greens, and I know (from my experience) that I will get a similar green by mixing other colors, I use them, I mix my green and modify it if necessary. I usually do everything by eye, because I know more or less what shades come out by mixing particular colors. Sometimes, in my sketchbook or on a scrap of paper I test whether the green is appropriate.
And here is when the color charts come in handy. It happens that the green is quite original and it is difficult to identify it at first glance. You can then use the previously made color charts and find a similar shade on it. Let’s look at the examples below. I made these color charts based on the colors mentioned in the first post about the greens.
On the first color chart I mixed all blues and yellows. I painted each square with mixtures in various proportions, sometimes I used more yellow, sometimes more blue + different color saturation. On the scan the colors look quite bright, but in reality they are not as bright in comparison with the second color chart in which the base colors were ready-made greens. On this basis, the first observations can be made: greens mixed with blue and yellow pigments are not as intense as those made with ready-made greens. Another thing that can be seen: the temperature of the yellow pigment affects the temperature of the final green. For example, a cool yellow Lemon Yellow PY175 in combination with a warm blue Ultramarine Blue PB29 gives a rather cool shade of green. It is also worth noting that a mix of Winsor Yellow Deep PY65 with blues creates colors similar to Green Gold PY129.
On the second color chart I took ready-made greens and I modified them by adding yellows and blues. Blues nicely darken Sap Green. In addition, the combination of green and blue creates beautiful turquoise, but for me the combination of Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7 with Winsor Blue Green Shade PB15 is the best when it comes to turquoise.
In the first part I wrote that to make a shade of green you can use, for example, the color on the opposite side of the green on the color wheel. In the next color chart I present combinations of greens with reds, oranges and purples.
And here you can notice some interesting facts. First, the greens in combination especially with Quinacridone Magenta PR122, but also with Permanent Rose PV19 create very interesting deep purples. They look particularly nice when mixed on a white palette. I recommend mixing Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7 with Quinacridone Magenta PR122. A beautiful combination. And such purples are created, because the cold shades of green are approaching the blues, and these in combination with magenta create purples.
Besides violets in various places on the above grid, we can also notice very interesting browns, for example Permanent Sap Green + Permanent Rose, up to black, like a mix of Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7 + Winsor Red Deep PR264.
The Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 mixtures were quite surprising for me. This color is very strong and always dominates in mixtures, but as soon as another color is added to it, it suddenly disapperas. It is relatively difficult to use in mixtures, but it creates new colors which would be difficult to obtain in a different way. In addition, its granulating properties allow you to get interesting effects. For example, I really like the combination of Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 with Translucent Orange PO71, which normally I would never mix (and, as it will turn out later in this post, this mix will be come in handy).
We could play forever with these colors. Let’s look at some other examples:
Finally, I have prepared something for you that will help you to look at the greens from a different angle. I cut out details from my photos and I tried to match the right mixes to make them look like greens in the pictures. In some cases the scans have changed shades very much, so they will not be similar to those in the pictures, but that’s not the point. It’s about the idea of
Color 1. The starting color was Perylene Green PBk31, which seemed too cool to me, so I warmed it by adding a bit of Winsor Yellow PY154.
Color 2. The starting color was Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50, which I modified by adding some Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7.
Color 3. This turquoise is darker than color 2 and at the same time a bit more subdued, not so intense. My color chart helped me here. I used Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 and broke it with Translucent Orange PO71.
Color 1. I started with Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 and I warmed it up and brightened by adding Winsor Yellow Deep PY65.
Color 2. Much paler and more bluish shade of green, but at the same time still remains warm. I used a mixture of color 1 and added Ultramarine Blue PB29 to it.
Color 3. I started with Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 and broke it with Winsor Red Deep PR264. On the scan it looks as if color 1 matches color 3.
Color 1. Cool green, so I started the Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7, which I darkened with Ultramarine Blue PB29. The resulting color was too cold, so I warmed it up gently with Winsor Yellow Deep PY65.
Color 2. Intense green, somewhere between a warm and cool shade. The Viridian color would match here. But I used the Winsor Green Yellow Shade PG36 and added Gold Ochre PY42 to it.
Color 3. Similar color to the previous one, but more intense. That’s why instead of Gold Ochre I used Winsor Yellow Deep PY65, which I added to Winsor Green Yellow Shade PY36.
Color 1. This time I needed turquoise. I used Winsor Green Yellow Shade PG36, which I mixed with Ultramarine Blue PB29.
Color 2. Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 darkened with Indanthrene Blue PB60.
Color 3. Slightly broken, very light turquoise. I started with the Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 and broke it with a bit of Winsor Red Deep PR264.
Color 1. Dark olive green, falling into brown a bit. I used my color charts. I mixed Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 with Winsor Red Deep PR264.
Color 2. This color was tricky. Color charts helped me again. I mixed cool Winsor Blue Green Shade PB15 with warm Gold Ochre PY42. Cool color mixed with a warm one usually gives a subdued color.
Color 3. Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 mixed with Quinacridone Gold PO49. More Quinacridone Gold will give a warmer and lighter shade.
Color 1. I got this color from the combination of Cerulean Blue Chrome PB36:1, which I broke with Winsor Yellow Deep PY65 and Translucent Orange PO71.
Color 2. This is a more diluted version of color 1.
Color 3. This is even more diluted version of color 1.
Color 1. Very dark green on the hydrangea leaves is pure Perylene Green PBk31, although you could warm up slightly this color with some warm yellow.
Color 2. Cool, juicy green. So I started with Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 and darkened it and cooled with Ultramarine Blue PB29.
Color 3. Cold green, dark, subdued turquoise. I started with Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7 and added Indanthrene Blue PB60 to it. I broke the resulting turquoise with a bit of Winsor Red Deep PR264.
Color 1. Intense, cool green. Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 mixed with Cobalt Blue PB28.
Color 2. I darkened and cooled Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 by adding Winsor Red Deep PR264. However, the green was too warm, so I had to cool it, but at the same time keep it intense. So I added Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7.
Color 3. Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 with the addition of Winsor Green Blue Shade PG7.
Color 1. Greenish turquoise. I started with Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110, to which I added Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50.
Color 2. Dark, warm green. I started with Perylene Green PBk31, which I warmed up and and made a bit more bright by adding Quinacridone Gold PO49.
Color 3. Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110 broken with Winsor Red Deep PR264.
Color 1. Another way to get dark green. Winsor Green Yellow Shade PG36 with Quinacridone Gold PO49 darkened with Ultramarine Blue PB29.
Color 2. Intense green. Winsor Green Yellow Shade PG36 warmed up slightly with Winsor Yellow Deep PY65.
Color 3. A slightly lighter shade of color 2 with a little bit of Quinacridone Gold PO49.
As you can see there is no one good way to mix green. It all comes with practice and experimenting. I hope that these two posts will be helpful for you. Do not be discouraged, however, if this approach seems daunting. Surely, knowledge about the pigments helps here, but in fact we intuitively choose colors very well and there is no need to know such details. For me it is just interesting. It is worth experimenting with your paints, because you can discover amazing combinations of colors, which will allow you to go beyond the usual patterns of using the same mixes.
Hi Chris. Thank you for the interesting information on how to mix greens. I’m impressed though by the lack of Prussian Blue from your palette. Prussian mixed with your yellows, earths and especially with PY129 can give you a huge range of very natural greens. Prussian is also a bit “greenier” than Pthalo blue. Is there any particular reason why you omitted it from your colour palette?
Hi Marialena! Thank you for your comment and you’re welcome. I do have Prussian Blue on my palette now. At the time when I was writing this blog post I didn’t have it, but later I bought it and eventually included it to my palette. I had avoided this color because I had read that it is a fugitive color. But then I’ve read other opinions which stated that it is not really fugitive, especially the one from Winsor&Newton. I decided to buy it and check by myself. And because, as you mentioned, it creates beautiful greens I added it to my palette.
Prussian Blue is without any doubt a lightfast colour and I don’t really know who wrote this about the supposed lightfastness problems that it has (unless the one who said that tested something else). If you are in doubt better make your own tests.
For me Prussian blue is one of the most useful colours, it mixes great greens and great purples if you mix it with a Magenta, and other red/rose colours.
I have only one convenience green in my palette. Only Sap Green. For cool green I use Viridian ( I don’t like Phthalos- very staining and messy for my taste) and I consider as a must the PY129 ( Green Gold at W&N or whatever else is called in other brands- the W&N one is easier to find here in Greece). You can mix a huge variety of greens with it. I consider it a green and not exactly a yellow. ( though officially is a yellow).
Hi Chris! Thanks for all of your resources. Do you usually only choose three greens for background leaves?
Hi Wendy and you’re welcome! No, three colors is not a rule. These are just examples, I just chose here 3 colors, but it’s not a rule. It always depends on the particular leaf.
Thankyou Chris for doing all this, you are a minefield of invaluable information. I have now created a folder especially for everything relating to colour theory and mixing colours, have printed them all off it is like having my own book to easily refer to. What you do is greatly appreciated
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Excellent tutorial! Many thanks :-)
Thank you and you’re welcome! :)
Thanks for this. I’m definitely going to have a go at getting some of those fab purple shades. I woukd never have thought of mixing green and red like that. It will give me a small project for this dark time of year.