Friday, March 25, 2016


 Don't you love Spring Green?

Our hills are vibrant green from all the rain we have had in March. A visitor from Minnesota, who last came to Northern California during the worst of the drought in the Fall, couldn't believe the change from the dry brown hills to the lush green that washes over everything in Spring.

The greens of the hills and the new leaves sprouting everywhere contrast with darker evergreens and create many shades of green.  Can I match those greens by mixing my watercolors? How many greens can I make by mixing greens and other colors together?

To start, I used Amazonite Genuine as the base and added one color to the Amazonite for each square: Black Tourmaline, Goethite, Quinacridone Gold, Green Apatite, Diopside, Ultramarine Blue, Smalt Genuine, Blue Apatite, Hansa Yellow Medium, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, Neutral Tint, Indigo, Rhodonite Genuine, Quinacridone Red, Lunar Earth, Quinacridone Sienna, Green Apatite, Naples Yellow, Garnet Genuine, Shadow Violet, Hematite.  I then started other rows in the same way, first with Diopside Green and then with Green Apatite. Don't you begin to feel like a geologist or chemist as you read these names?And what greens we can make.

The mixed green in the center of this palette is so much the color of Spring!

You can use greens straight from the tubes: Hooker's Green, Hunter's Green,  Chromium Green Oxide, Cascade Green, Sap Green, Jadeite, Malachite, Olive Green, Phthalo Green, Prussian Green, Viridian Green. There are many. Greens made from a mixture of blues and yellows though or mixed with others look more natural and interesting than greens from the tube.

I used Amazonite, Hansa Yellow and Indigo to make these green leaves.

So many of the colors in watercolor (and oil) are natural pigments from rocks that have been ground down to powder, then mixed with gum Arabic, glycerin, a humectant such as corn syrup or honey, and a filler such as cornstarch. As a painter, you may be painting a landscape using paint mixed from the earth around you. Can you image the early artists (and present-day DIYers) mixing their own colors from crushed rock and stones? Watch the following YouTube to see one painter make her own paints.

At one of my first watercolor classes, my instructor proclaimed that she loved to make color charts and color wheels. At the time, I didn't understand, but now I do. I love to mix squares of colors just to see what colors I can make and how closely I can match a color around me. There are thousands of variations of green. Try some color charts of your own. Besides you can get your hands dirty while you are having fun.

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