it’s not easy being….

August 18, 2015

The beauty of people is that though 99.9% the same, we all know it only takes going to, say, The Iowa State Fair, to discover we’re probably not.  All you have to do is stand aside (wondering what on earth you bought that hot dog and sauerkraut for) and watch everyone passing by.

This is just a convoluted way of confessing that not everyone is a great fan of Summer.  Painters (some painters who write certain blogs about watercolour) in particular who like landscapes can (on occasion) find Summer just too, um, well, green.

There are ways of uncomplicating all the greens.  When I lived in The Adirondacks of New York, not far from our town, in another small town, the famous Grandma Moses, who began painting at the age of 78 had only recently died at the age of 101 .


She was once found in her studio with masonite panels at her feet and a roller with blue paint.  Looking up from coating a panel and filling the roller with more blue from the tray, she informed her visitor, “On Thursdays I do skies.”

In 2006 one of her pieces sold for $1.6 million.

Greens can be as simply applied to a landscape as opening up a tube of something and rolling it on. In representational forms of art, trying to authenticate the many greens of a summer scene can be a complex challenge, if for no other reason than that there are just so many variations.  Leaves on the very same tree play on different greens, without even mentioning the grasses, shrubs, bushes, ferns below it.

Because it is a colour derived from mixing blues and yellows, greens straight from the tube nearly always have a garishness when, for example, painted against a very blue sky.  That’s because the blue of the sky likely isn’t the same blue used to create that particular green. If the sky is cerulean, mixing a green from cerulean and a yellow used in another part of the painting will harmonize. So finding ways to harmonize greens through using their primary parents elsewhere in the painting is a way forward–a way of conquering ‘the greens’.

A worthwhile exercise from a contributor named ‘CharM’ on the site, posted in 2011, is provided by this chart:


‘CharM’ takes a similar exercise to completion here:


While one is actually in the process of painting a landscape with a variety of greens, it is entirely possible to include in the painting all of the above blues, through washes, cloud shadows, sky and/or water, and generally just finding ways to get them all in there.  Likewise, the full range of yellows can also find their way into the painting.  Doing this then puts all the blues in the scene, as well as all the yellows, and sets the stage for being able to harmoniously use every single green (and more) shown on ‘CharM’s very helpful chart(s).

I still prefer doing fog, mist, moonlight, winter and early dawns (before green has a glimmer of a chance of making an appearance).  And that’s fine, because we all know I am .001% different — or lived a past life on a Scotland isle, where being able to see beyond the front step meant it was a lovely day.

8 Responses to “it’s not easy being….”

  1. thank you Charlie, and you are directing me to very exciting new blogs.


  2. Excellent post Lance! Sooo helpful! I’ll have to try that out soon. Your posts are so awesome for a newbie like me. Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lemony–am I ever with you about the ‘yellows’. And at this time of summer the hot yellows are joined by hot oranges and crispy blond lawns. Yay blues and blue-greens (the only shade of green I can wear, hahaha)! Thank you so much.


  4. Cynthia, your apt and witty quote made me go looking for Jarod Kintz and discovered this….”I’ve been writing for about a decade now, and I’m getting better every ten years. I went from terrible to tolerable, and in 2021 I hope to be Tolstoy.” How self-effacing. I must try out his work. And here’s hoping we’re around in 2021 to read his ‘War And Peace’. Thank you again!


  5. “If green is envy and blue is depression, then I’m feeling quite turquoise right now. But maybe with a little luck, I’ll feel teal a little later.” —Jarod Kintz

    You are a fantastic teacher, Lance.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Very interesting! I can see that landscape painters certainly DO have a challenge when it comes to greens. Personally I find summer too yellow. Or rather, that the greens are infused with brash yellow flavors that I’m not fond of. I’m more partial to the bluer side of green. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. YAY. It wasn’t for naught. Thank you Rebecca.


  8. Rebecca said

    Thanks for this Lance – I for one must have a go at this! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: