Variety in greens

A few weeks ago someone asked if I could write a post about mixing greens. This pond scene seems like a good place to start.

There are really two parts to this answer. The first has to do with the pigments you use and the second with how you vary the greens in the scene. Let’s start with the pigments. Are you using tube/premixed greens? Sap Green would be an example of this. Or do you make your own greens from mixing yellow and blue? I do a bit of both. I have Azo Green (a lighter, more acid-looking green), Sap Green and Phthalo Green on my palette. I use them all, as well as mix my own greens from yellow and blue. I like the more natural greens that I can achieve from the mixes, and the combos I use most frequently for that are Azo Yellow and Ultramarine Blue, Azo Yellow and Indanthrene Blue, and Quinacridone Gold and Indanthrene Blue.

The reason I use so many combos to mix greens has to do with the second part of the answer. I want variety when a scene is dominantly green. I want some greens to be greyish (like the second layer of foliage below), some to be yellowish (like the grasses in the front of the pond) and some to be dark (like the shapes between the leaves). I can’t get that variety with one tube of green. If you notice, I’ve added some red in the foliage too, which— because it’s the complementary colour to green — really enlivens the greens.

And a little reminder: today is the last day to enter the draw to win my online video class “Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor” for free on the website Here’s the link: Hopefully I’ll be announcing the lucky winner very soon.


14 Comments on “Variety in greens”

  1. Mary says:

    Absolutely exquisite Shari 🙂
    You can see all the wide variety of greens in your Baie d’Urfe pond 🙂


  2. Jeff Gold says:

    Aside from the helpful hints on mixing greens, this is a beautiful composition. So much to see but it retains a real clarity. The reflections and water surface are very convincing. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and skill.


  3. Monique says:

    Your greens are BEAUTIFUL.


  4. Sylvia Ramos says:

    I’m looking forward to your Craftsy class!


  5. Shari, I know nothing about Craftsy but I’m curious how much the course costs?


  6. Irene Phillips Miller says:

    I really admire your work and I hope to meet you sometime at the Plein Air days. This painting and so any others just bring a vibrant visual presence through your medium and expertise.


    • Thanks so much Irene. I hope to get back to the Plein Air group soon but I won’t be there for a few weeks. Hope to meet you one of these days.


      • Irene Phillips Miller says:

        Thank you Shari. I registered for your new video workshop and I am looking forward with respect to your artistic and practical teaching and amazing techniques, and as always, your personal touch.


  7. Excellent green watercolor….

    Mark de Zabaleta


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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s