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Readers Respond: What Colors Do You Use for Mixing Vibrant Greens?

Responses: 11


From the article: How to Mix Greens
Which paint colors or pigments are your favorites when it comes to mixing up gorgeous greens? Do you have a standard "recipe" or set of colors you use? Share what you use to mix vibrant, lustrous greens rather than dull and muddy greens.

Transparent Green

I use a lot of glazing in my work so I need a transparent green. I like Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide + Phthalo Blue or Phthalo Green mixed with a lot of medium.
—Guest Ellen

Start with "Pure" Colours

Mixing vibrant, clean greens is a perennial problem for all artists. Greens "muddy" very quickly and easily. One reason for this is that most tubed paints have all sorts of colours within their mix -- for example there will be red of some kind in most dark greens, which will imbalance the subsequent mix if you add, for example, orange or more red. It's much the same as Marion's point that some blacks, have yellow in them, causing them to turn green when more yellow is added -- as does a chromatic black which has cyan, magenta and a tiny touch of yellow. To overcome this, I mix initial greens using Cyan and Cadmium yellow light. This ensures the base mix has no residual reds, browns or oranges in it. I can then add whatever I like (often mixing on the canvas) to make a range of tertiary greens, while tending to avoid flat, muddy colour.

Greens Mix

An old tutor of mine used only one green mix which at the time I hated but have warmed to it now. Ultramarine blue mixed with gamboge.

Another Couple of Brilliant Greens

Here's a couple of other bright greens, but more opaque... Cobalt Teal and Cadmium Yellow. A mellower version, add some Cadmium Orange. Another tip: Try mixing a tiny bit of Napthol red or Cadmium Red Hue to grey the color. (You can use Cadmium Red too, but you may want to save that where you need a pure opaque red.)

Interesting Vibrant Green

I like vivid colors, so if you are trying for realistic or restrained color, you can use these to kick it up a notch when it gets too dull. This is acrylic, but other mixtures are probably similar. I'll give the formulas in case you want to try it in another brand or medium. Golden Pthalo Green (I use Blue Shade) with some Golden Indian Yellow Hue. I am stressing the hue color because it is transparent. It is something like the effect of an ochre but far more brilliant. This gives a range of lush greens, and if primarily the phalo, it looks pure but not as harsh. For matching, the details are: Indian Yellow Hue: Arylide Yellow / Nickel Complex Azo / Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PY 73 / PY150 / PR206) Phthalo Green: try blue shade -- or yellow shade -- see what you like. (These are Chlorinated Copper Phthalocynine PG7 and Chlorinated Copper Phthalocynine Brominated PG36 and respectively.)

My Best Greens

I discovered that mixing Cadmium orange and Thalo Blue gives a lovely olive green, add more blue to get more of a blu-ish green and more cadmium orange to get more of an olive green. Very versatile mixture for landscapes, which I do a lot of.
—Guest Anne

Mixing Greens

Try using yellow ochre and Payne's grey as well as cadmium yellow and Payne's grey for mixing more earthy types of greens. I also subdue them with slight amounts of white gesso when painting grasslands and fields.
—Guest David Emory

Mars Black for Greens

Ever wondered at all the shades of green around you as you've driven along a country road lined with springtime trees? In my early days as an artist I used to get frustrated about all the greens available, and which one to use. Out I would go for yet another tube of paint. Still I couldn't get that certain green!! Mixing blue and yellows never went dark or dirty enough when I needed them to be. Then I began to study paintings of the countryside for their tonality. Putting study into action I then took a pale yellow (as an example), I then poured one tablespoon into part of my mixing tray. Then I placed an eighth of Mars black (another example) into another compartment. I then dipped my paint knife into the Mars black and fanned it into one corner of the pale yellow without making it into a block colour (which you can also do too if needs be using the same amounts outlined here merely as a guideline). Great for painting forest canopies or parkland where so many greens can be found.
—Jonathan Brown

Black for Green

An option for some nice olivey greens is mixing either yellow or ochre with ivory black or Payne's grey. Generally these are nice colors for landscapes.

Don't Over Mix

Don't over mix your colors, and when you put a stroke down leave it because if you try to paint overtop it with oils mud will result quite often.
—Guest Papaya

Mixing My Own Greens

I find tube (or jar) greens too harsh and mix my own. Green is a mixture of blue and yellow; of course, you know this. But if you use the blue you are painting with along with the yellows you are using, you will usually find the greens that result in harmony with the rest of the painting. Mix in small batches, and with very clean tools. The least bit of contamination will change the mix and the resulting color. You will find greens with a yellow ochre base will be more mossy, muted greens, the cleaner yellows like the cad yellows, lemon yellows etc will give brighter greens. Also watch the blue you use. You will get totally different greens with the cobalt blue than you will with Prussian blue. And the thalo will give you another color totally.

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