Stone Coal Studio

Stone Coal Studio

Friday, October 9, 2015

Painting Autumn Greens: A Plein Air Mixing Cheat Sheet

The fall color is quickly arriving here in Western Virginia and with it is the challenge of capturing the changing range of colors.  In spring the greens are bright and fresh but in the fall the greens become duller as they move toward ochres and browns.

The need to mix greens in autumn "tones" was very clear to me on Thursday when I was painting a study for the plain air event at Plein Air Event at South Peak in Roanoke, VA.  

I carry several tubes of green in my box.  I realize that some artists mix all their greens but I find that working in acrylic for plein air requires speed.   At a workshop in Florida a few years ago I studied with three acrylic artists who regularly participated in juried plain air events and they all pre-mixed greens before painting.  


Greens straight out of the tube are always too harsh and require mixing with another color(s) before applying to the painting.  So I made myself a cheat sheet creating both warm and cool greens.  

I took a canvas board (previously painted) and covered with a thin coat of gesso.  I took a sharpie and wrote the color and the color I added to it.  


The top row is ultramarine blue plus yellow ochre.  The color changes as even more yellow ochre is added with the last mixture having a bit of white added to it.

The following rows are: hookers green plus yellow ochre.
ultramarine blue plus cadmium yellow
hookers green plus cadmium yellow
cadmium green plus yellow ochre
cadmium green plus cadmium yellow
viridian green plus yellow ochre
viridian green plus cadmium yellow

The lower set of colors are my "wild card" colors.  Transparent orange was selected and then added to cadmium green again increasing it's saturation in the next stroke under the first and then adding a bit of white for the final one at the bottom.    This was repeated for viridian, hookers green, and ultramarine.  The result was some wonderful greenish grays which look to be very useful colors.

(*Please note that this is simply my choice of colors and 
your choice of colors should be simply what works for you.) 

I plan to place this cheat sheet in my box for the plein event tomorrow to help me paint a bit faster and hopefully complete the painting with fewer wrong color choices.   Maybe it will even provide a bit of "confidence" too.

And what I did I do with the excess paint on the brush from mixing sample colors?  I wiped the brush  on a board completely filling it with color and creating a "start" for a future painting.


Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Hope you look at greens a little more closely this fall.

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