Tulip greens

The other day I spotted a few tulips in my garden — little resilient red leaf tips that have miraculously forced their way out of the frozen ground despite the still-frigid temperatures in Montreal. There are no flowers in sight just yet, so I succumbed to these tulips at the grocery store. The yellow flowers have tall stems and large petals, and are definitely more elegant than what I usually find in the bucket at the store. I just had to sketch them!

Tulip foliage is a matte greyish-green colour, and I always have a hard time figuring out what blue and what yellow to use to convey that soft green. For today’s sketch, I tried something new. I used Phthalo Green (not a colour you would use on its own for foliage) and mixed it with Burnt Sienna. I tested the combo out on some scrap paper. On the left is Phthalo Green on its own, then Burnt Sienna, and then a mix of the two, in different proportions. On the left I used more Burnt Sienna and on the right there’s more green in the mix. Occasionally, while I was painting the bouquet, I added a little yellow or a little blue to the base mix to vary the green tones. Sketched in my Hahnemuhle 100% cotton sketchbook, A4 Portrait size.

20 Comments on “Tulip greens”

  1. Cindy Johnson says:

    Lovely tulips! Thank you for sharing the colors you used and how you mixed them, and then added to the mix. It is hard for me to get the greens to look realistic with flowers or foliage. I’ll try this color mixture next time.


  2. grace afridi says:

    This is wonderful! You really nailed the colors of the leaves! 𝐈 noticed thecolors of the leaves even before reading your comments. This just goes to show yoj are doing a good job teahing me color theory!


  3. Denise says:

    I’ve always admired all your flower paintings in the past, but there was something about the green leaves in this one that seemed to stand out. And now we know the secret! Once again, thank you for your expertise.


  4. Maria B. says:

    Thank you for this tip for mixing greens! Also, looking at your sketch, I really get the feel the lower stems are submerged in water! Am I seeing what I expect to see or are you working some magic here? Just love your style!


  5. Your greens are great! Lovely painting of the tulips!!


  6. Sara Tarr says:

    Here’s a totally different question! I’ve made the mistake of buying paint sets that contain convenience greens and I have tooooo many. How do I mix convenience greens with other colors to make good neutrals? As to the question about dull colors last week, I think I just need lots of gouache practice. Thanks, Sara


  7. Bernadette says:

    Greens are so difficult to mix well but you nailed it! Thanks for showing variations in the mixing. I need more practice in making greens that “work!” Thanks as always for your lessons.


  8. Susie langley says:

    Beautiful and helpful tips. Today is my birthday and I am in Montreal too!!!!!


  9. Donna R says:

    Soooo LOVELY!

    What yellow color did you use for the tulips?


    • Thanks Donna. On my palette I have Lemon Yellow and Hansa Yellow Medium. I combined those for the light areas of the tulips and I added Raw Sienna for the darker areas. And maybe a bit of green too.


      • Donna R says:

        Would love to see you offer more classes on painting flowers. I have taken a couple, your a great teacher.


  10. Nice paintings of the Tulips in the vase, and your swatches.


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