Another GREEN Tutorial Just In Time For St. Paddy's Day! (Part Three)

6:33 AM

In the first Green Tutorial (HERE), we discussed making friends with those greens on our palette by blending them with other pigments on our palette.
In the second Green Tutorial (HERE), we put what we learned in the first post to work by painting individual leaves.
In part three of this Green Tutorial, we're going to apply what we learned about painting leaves by painting a basket of flowers and last, a charming cottage garden in England!

A Pretty Basket of Flowers
The image at the top of the graphic is from a postcard I started at Selby Gardens but did not get a chance to finish. There were hanging baskets everywhere just brimming with blooms. This one was full of Impatiens. In the first layer, I laid down a scribbled wash of yellows and greens after I completed the pot.

In the second step, I add spots of color to represent the flowers. Again, these are mostly little scribbles of color without any real attempt to look like a certain flower but rather something generic.

In the third step, I started adding in darker greens. I used my base green mixed. This included yellow mixed into my icky palette green to make it more natural. I then added blues and violets to get a variety of darker greens.

In the last step, I went even darker and when I felt I had enough darks built up, I add some "raggedy edges" to the edges of the plant mass to make it read more natural.

Notice the lack of details. There's nothing there but suggested shapes and a variety of colors. I've used my darkest darks to indicate the areas in shadow so that I am suggesting a light source (see the small penciled sun in the left corner just above the border).

When we're out on location doing quick sketches, we don't have a lot of time for details, but we can certainly suggest them to our viewers!

English Cottage Garden
Below is the "inspiration source" I used for an English cottage garden sketch.
Click to enlarge
I gave myself a maximum of 30 minutes to create a sketch based on the image. Knowing my time limit helped me to focus in on what I liked best about the image—the row of trees with the garden and lawn below it. I love the cottage in the background, but with only a half hour, I decided to forego it until I had a bigger window of time to tackle it and do it justice.

In the top image, you see my beginning sketch...just a few outlines to tell me where things belonged. Since I planned on letting the paint do most of the work, I didn't need much. Notice I've used the rule of odds with five trees.

Also, I wasn't shooting for a copy of my photo but rather my interpretation of the garden. 

In the second step, I painted in the lawn using a smooth wash that had a mix of the yellows, oranges and icky green on my palette. Next I mixed blues and yellows with the green to get the tree "balls" with squiggle shapes to suggest trees.

I added the back lawn using more green and less of the yellow and orange.

In third step, I add spots of color to suggest flower shapes and then I added in a very dark background to help establish the middle ground. This also helped to push the foreground closer to the viewer.

Again, this was all done with squiggles except on the left side in the background where I used long strokes to suggest long pieces of grass.

Starting in Step 4, I begin to build the flower garden at the base of the trees. To make sure I was going dark enough with my first layer in this area, I also added in some of the dark, dirt color. If I waited to add the darks until last and my first layer looked too light, I would have to paint yet another layer over the first. Layers take time to dry and are not ideal for location work. It is best to limit them as much as possible by going dark enough on the first layer.

In Step 5, I added more detail in the background, closed up some of the white skips and adjusted some of the background darks.

In Step 6, I've completed the foreground garden and added in a second layer of "squiggles" over the tree balls to give them more of a leafy texture.

I've added in turquoise and Indian yellow which are no where to be seen in the "Inspiration Source" photo.

In the last image, I've added in the sky with some fluffy white clouds meandering by to give the image a more complete look.

This entire sketch was accomplished with a base green and by adding the other pigments on my palette to it.

If the green on your palette is not a natural green found in nature, it helps to go ahead and build a puddle of a base green and working from that. Be sure to use lots of pigment and as little water as possible. It may take yellow, blue or both to make the green look like something you would expect to see outdoors.

The rest of the work was done via texture, shapes, temperature and value.

Texture - the trees, background and part of the flower garden are nothing more than squiggles. The lawns are a smooth wash.
Shapes - the grasses in the background are long lines as are some of the shapes in the front garden.
Temperature - notice the warm yellows and greens that make up the grasses vs. the cool greens that make up the tree balls and the darker areas of the background on the right and directly below the trees.
Values - by using darks, I push the background further into the back. By using lights, I am pulling the trees and the front flower garden towards the viewer into the middle ground. The light value lawn also moves towards the viewer. I also used lights and darks to give the trees roundness and volume as well as to separate them, one from another.

Greens are here to stay and it only makes sense to make friends with them if we're going to find ourselves outside in a England or a Garden (click the words for upcoming workshops!). Just looking out the window can bring greens into your view!

Questions? Questions about greens or another troublesome pigment? Let me know in the comments! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

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2 Creative Thought(s)

  1. I've really enjoyed this series on mixing green and creating depth. Your artwork is beautiful. I was wondering though, if you could do the step by step photos individually. When I click to enlarge them, they actually become smaller. Thank you for posting this tutorial. You're a wonderful teacher. Your paintings reflect the joy you have for art and nature.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Laura! The images have now been broken out into sections. My apologies for the confusion—Blogger and I don't always agree on the best way to do things! 😏


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