This Is Not A Review—The Best Laid Plans

March 12, 2018
A 9 x 12 inch brush pen portrait with watercolor washes and a Montana Marker acrylic background. That yellowish color—that’s Schmincke’s Green Yellow.


Today I was going to start a week long review of either a sketchbook I’ve been working in or a paper I’ve been working on for the first part of the year. But life happened.

Those reviews will still come along, probably in April. All the images are scanned and organized, I just haven’t had a moment to sit down and write about such important topics.

In the meantime I want to stay in touch so I’m going to write about a couple things that have been on my mind, and which require only short posts.

Green. I’m going to start with Green.

I don’t like green. I don’t know that I ever have liked green. Unless Robin Hood is wearing green. Oh, and I do like the Green Arrow.

But don’t write to me about the Green Arrow because I’m still in season 4 peddling my way through the winter watching a couple episodes a day. So I’m not current and don’t want spoilers!

Other than that I don’t care for green. 

But the problem with not liking a color is then we don’t use the color.

I think we miss out on some of the possibilities of communicating everything we might be able to communicate when we just leave a color completely off our palette. I think we owe it to ourselves to try out some colors we don’t like, to really push it for a good chunk of time, and see what we can do with it.

We can’t just work with a non-favorite color for a short work session, a day, or a weekend. That’s too short a time. We barely settle in to what the color can do for us, how it can mix with our regular standby colors, how it can mix with other new color we really need to start playing with, and so it goes.

I added theyellow green from Schmincke seen in today’s image to my palette in the middle of last year. Slowly it worked its way into my paintings. Some days I’d use it a lot, then not use it for a couple weeks, then use it in everything for days on end. Guess which pan in the new palette was emptied first!?

Look I know a couple things.

  1. I don’t think I’ll ever be a proponent of viridian. Every manufacturer’s offering of that color has left me cold, no matter what they try to do with it. It is often gummy, and generally very weak. 
  2. I have come over to trying Phthalo Green in some RARE instances when I want to make really rich darks outside for landscape. That means change is possible. But I still don’t think I’ll ever come over to viridian.

What do you think about green? Maybe it’s your favorite color? Maybe it’s a color you shun? Maybe, like me, one spring when you were supposed to be painting landscapes in Minnesota your eyes and brain exploded because no one who doesn’t live in Minnesota can understand green the way we see it in this lush and water-rich land. (Oh, by the way, yellow green from Schmincke is perfect for some of those early spring greens.)

Whatever your relationship to green you need to start having a dialog with it (or which ever pigment you’re avoiding).

Here are some examples from the blog where I used some green on a face and beard—Yellow Green, a warm red (I’m sorry I didn’t note it down and I was alternating 3 palettes, it looks like Schmincke’s permanent red or maybe their scarlet red), along with some phthalo turquoise.

Here’s an adorable dog, painted with green Uniball pen and green paint. In this case the green was made by mixing Helio blue with Quin. Gold.

I have some more green sketches I’ll share with you this week.

In the meantime start looking back over your paintings. Is there a color you’ve been avoiding or ignoring? Think about how you could use the next time you sit down to paint.

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    • Ted B
    • March 13, 2018

    Great topic, Roz. A personal opinion: I do not like green either. It dominates summer landscapes to the point of monotony, and is a serious challenge to landscape painters, many of whom fail miserably. I generally dislike working with greens, and do not like painting summer landscapes in “green country”. The exceptions are the dark greens of conifers (dark green mix + cad red) and live oaks in the South (cad yellow + ivory black). These provide for beautiful “light sinks” in otherwise drab landscapes, both summer and winter. With oils, I do use viridian (+white) graded into cobalt blue for clear dawn skies. The only pure tube green I ever use (occasionally) is Holbein’s baryte green for bright, cool green accents that truly pop.

    (Note to MS Word Grammar Checker: Yes, “whom” is correct above; “most” is the subject of the verb, “fail”, and “whom” is the object of the preposition, “of”, you morons.)

    1. Reply

      I know you understand about green Ted!!!!! Conifers do have a satisfying green! I’m not familiar with Holdings baryte green, I’ll have to look and see which pigment it is and if it’s available in watercolor because now I want to see what it is you love about it! Don’t get me started on Grammar checker!!! Hope you have a great spring this year for landscapes!

        • Ted B
        • March 18, 2018

        Roz, Holbein’s baryte green is just a phthalo green plus titanium white. I could probably mix it myself, but I never use phthalo green at all (a personal bias). I do not use phthalo green in watercolors either, so I am not sure if a diluted phthalo green watercolor would be the same thing or not. Perhaps mixing it with titanium white gouache might make a similar water soluble pigment?

        1. Reply

          Thanks Ted for letting me know this so I don’t have to go searching. Like you I don’t have Phthalo Green on my palette, so I’d be inclined to use the premixed for this. But I do have some ph. Green so I might just mix it up and see what I get in gouache or watercolor. Thanks so much.

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