I received many questions about painting greens.
When you paint a landscape, apart from painting a desert, you always have to paint that green. a lot of us have problems painting greens. and in their watercolors it is often out of balance.

A small lesson in what we see, we see color cause it is reflecting in our eyes, when it is dark less colour is reflecting so you see less.
When there is light we see a lot of color, the best colour we see when it is a bit cloudy, the light is been filtered.
That filter is also effecting the colour, think on a sunset, or when it is raining it becomes grey.
So when we paint we have to think about this too.
But when we look in our colourbox with 25 wells of pigment we forget this sort of knowledge and we go for green, and when the grass is a bit yellow  we put yellow to it. which one of the four yellows we have?? dunno lets go! 😉


I shall approach it more technical, you painted the sky with Ultramarine Blue (UB) with a touch of Burnt sienna, not to make a grey, but just to grey it down a bit.
When you talk about harmony the next step is to paint the trees and the field.
Normally you would go for your favorite green.
But think about the filtered light and how it effects our colour, if we want more harmony in our watercolour the usual step would be to make a green from our (UB).
Since (UB) is a transparent colour we seek on our palette for a yellow that have this same quality. For Instance New Gamboge or Aureolin.
So you have bright warm green, cause (UB) and yellow makes a warm green.
Add a touch of Transparent Raw sienna (RS) in that mix and it gets a bit darker.
A bit more blue a bit more yellow or a bit more (RS) find a balance and alter along the way your mix to make your field look more interesting, or your tree of course.

I use Aureolin or New Gamboge yellow.
When you have Cobalt Blue sky it is exactly the same approach.
You have a less warm green, because Cobalt is a bit cooler, you can add even Burnt Sienna now in the mix because their is less red in the cobalt.

Mixing greens with cool Blue’s like Winsor Blue or Prussian is much easier.
But the variation to paint a sky is harder.
When you paint a (UB) sky you easily add raw sienna or Burnt Sienna in that sky, do this the same with a cool blue you instantly have a green sky.
Cool Blue’s with yellow gives you a strong very light green. In The Netherlands you can’t find this green. Maybe it is here? But we have different light then lets say in India.
I see a lot of painters from India using this type of green. It looks unnatural here in Europe, but I am sure they paint what they see!

A sky from Paynes grey, a lot of artist use this, Wesson, Seago or John Hoar.
Its a cool grey, so you can say it is a cool blue.
A mix with yellow gives you a delightful green, add some raw sienna and it is warmer.
Watch out Paynes grey dries 40% lighter!

Cobalt Blue Sky with Cobalt Blue Greens

So when you want to stay in harmony mix the same Blue what you used in your sky for your greens!
And if you mix cool and warm Blue’s in your sky, you are already a clever painter and don’t need help with greens!

This is just the way I see it.
Other painters could have a other viewpoint or style.

Edo Hannema





Categories Art

11 thoughts on “Greens

  1. Thanks so much for this Edo! I’ve just spent a weekend surrounded by a bewildering array of greens and could really have done wth some of this advice! So great to of you to share it!

    1. Greens are sometimes very annoying to paint. I paint them with transparent pigments, it is for me the way to keep the light. glad it helped. best wishes Edo

  2. Good article. So far I never used paynes in the sky (in urban scenes the sky is less dominant), it makes sense. Thanks for suggesting, I will try it.

    1. Thanks Rene, the line and wash paintings from Wesson were most of the time done in just three colours. And the paynes grey is closest to blue so it gets blue when you look at such painting. amazing how a mind works.

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