View Full Version : Green without green

Deborah Secor
09-01-2005, 09:58 PM
I just wanted to share a painting I did for a class I taught today, which was a very interesting experiment. I decided that since we've done classes on painting white using no white, why not paint green without using green? A lot of people have trouble with greens, so I thought maybe by forcing them to make greens on the paper they would learn how to make stronger greens. It worked very well--in fact, I think they made more ineresting greens this way. I love it when a plan comes together!

This one is 9x12" on toned Wallis (what else??)

I found that it worked best if I layered blues and yellows, then finger blended and used my color shaper like a brush. I used a lot of oranges and purples, a deep red-violet and a very, very dark blue to flavor the colors more.

I have another one half done, started as a demo in my class today, so when/if I get it finished I'll post it here too.

Try it sometime--put away your greens and just mix your own. I think you'll be amazed at how well it works! Let me know if you try. In fact, I'd love it if you post your results here for everyone to see. :D


09-01-2005, 10:40 PM
Dee, these are really rich greens and noone would ever guess that you didn't use a green pastel! I look forward to seeing the other one as well. I would love to see a WIP version of mixing colors like this. It is funny, I have been thinking that I would really love to get a new set of pastels to have more choices of colors, but I think now maybe I am not being resourceful enough with what I have.

Thanks for sharing this.

Deborah Secor
09-01-2005, 10:46 PM
Kristie, I know what you mean. I think I could make use of a lot more color if I was forced to! I'll see if I can find the time to get a shot of the other one in progress for you. It has some of the 'raw' colors in place so you can see how they're constructed. It really was fun, and more successful for my students than I predicted. Now we need to try it orange without orange and then with purple without purple!


09-01-2005, 10:59 PM
What a great experiment. First of all I love the painting. The greens seem much more natural and tons more intriguing, when you use the components. You have really inspired me. I wonder how this can be applied to portrait colors, hmmmmm... Gotta go and see.

P.S- This is Nori, somehow we are stuck on my daughter's ID

Lynn Quinn
09-01-2005, 11:14 PM
Great idea, Deborah! Maybe I can get my art club (the club I'm a member of, I should say!) to spend a morning doing something like this!

09-02-2005, 12:48 AM
I always like your color use anyway. I really like it here. Yes I have daydreamed of Terry's 85 greens, but maybe I too need to try more mixing.
I really like the painting as well. The rich textures of the layers of chaparal and grasses that hide the bottom of the house.
Thanks for sharing

Kathryn Wilson
09-02-2005, 06:36 AM
Just sitting here in amazement that what I am seeing here are not greens. I can analyze most of the colors - fer instance, the darker tree on the right is a blue and yellow mixed to make a green and so on for the other bushes, but what colors did you use in the foreground for the sagebrush (?) if that is what the plants are. It looks like a grey green. Did you underpaint with blue to begin with?

You know me, I gotta know all the pertinent stuff -

Karen Margulis
09-02-2005, 07:26 AM
Amazing! I love the painting and I am in awe of all those greens without using green! Like Kat I'd like some more deails! I'd like to give this a try!

Cherylyn Gaiter
09-02-2005, 09:01 AM
Hi Deborah :wave: ,You have really made me think more about mixing with pastels. I have never really tried this and I work mainly with pastels for my animal portraits. I have never had a lesson, I just picked up some of my daughters pastels one day. I always thought that you couldn't mix pastels too much without them going all yacky and muddy. I would be so interested to learn more. :)


09-02-2005, 09:05 AM
This is Excellent. I have big problems with greens. It is my pet hate. There never seems to be a pastel stick that is the right natural looking green. You have them all here. :) I would love to know how and with what colours you toned the paper.

I am working on a painting of a german shepherd laying in a field. The dog is coming out beautiful, but the green field isn't. I was going to post it on here for help with the green field. Think I will brush off the background and try your way, it looks much more real life colours. Thank goodness my painting is on Wallis and your tips have come through just in time to save my painting :clap:


09-02-2005, 12:02 PM
nice idea Deborah.

09-02-2005, 12:39 PM
Here's a tip for you who are "new" to the power of colour: Place your finger or something over that pink, and the "greens" lose some of their impact. This way you can see it is not only what colours you mix, but what colours you play off which makes colours sing.

09-02-2005, 12:53 PM
lolol Dee, I surprised my name's not mentioned here at all lol - Id thought the same self thing, but hadnt actually thought about putting it in to practise - I will definately try this out for sure........ thanks for doing this

Paula Ford
09-02-2005, 12:57 PM
Lovely painting Deborah. I have always thought I'd be lost without all my greens, but seeing this painting, gives me a whole new perspective. What a great idea. Thanks!

Deborah Secor
09-03-2005, 12:52 PM
Here's the promised no-green tree. Of course I use ALL the colors in my palette, when I need to--not just yellow and blue--to make greens. Yep, you can bounce them off complements to make them pop a little more, but instead of just relying on the comps to do the work, as Julie mentioned, I rely on them to make the colors. Hope you can see the mixtures here...


CM Neidhofer
09-03-2005, 02:54 PM
Very nice and definitely worth experimenting, with any colors! Thanks for the food for thought!


09-03-2005, 08:41 PM
Here's the promised no-green tree. Of course I use ALL the colors in my palette, when I need to--not just yellow and blue--to make greens......


Just gorgeous! Thanks! I am inspired with this one little tree to bring all my colors into my next works. I have been longing to just have a free-for-all with my colors and now here you have shown an ordered example of just what I've been thinking of! Now, to see if I can actually do this! A bit of experimenting to do...I will post it here, too, so this thread may get revived a month down the road.

Mikki Petersen
09-04-2005, 02:32 PM
How impressive! And here I spent a fortune on a full pallette of greens from Terry Ludwig... Your blended greens are indeed more lively and vivid than using green straight from the stick. I'm going to remember this one next time I'm stuck for greens. Thanks Deborah for a great lesson!


Deborah Secor
09-04-2005, 05:49 PM
Thank you all. I don't suggest you use this technique for every green, of course, or any other color for that matter, but I think we all sometimes get a bit tied up with what we have in our palette of colors and forget that we can 'paint' every bit as much with pastels! I know a lot of people think finger blending is a big no-no, and I can't disagree with that too much since I've seen my share of mud from its overuse, but in some instances it's a very useful technique.

I'd love to see other versions of green without green here... It could be very instructive to see the different ways we make green. Cindy, don't wait a month! do a little one now... :)

If I finish this tree I'll post it. We continue with a lecture demo on how to paint trees at my next class, so maybe I can show a few more greens out of that.


09-06-2005, 12:56 AM
wow, i am stoked to see this. pastels are my first art love, but i put them away to make room to learn oils. i may have to sneak them out again; didn't realize mixing could work so well! thanks a lot deborah, for this wonderful instruction.

09-06-2005, 10:26 AM
Very good! It's a beautiful painting. And also a good lesson. Sometimes I'm not quite satisfied with the greens that I buy. I'll try your method.
Maria Ester

09-22-2007, 09:45 AM
Beautiful paintings, and I'm tickled pink (green?) to find another exercise from Deborah. I'm adding this one to my saves. I think it should be in the library too! In fact, I'd like to see a special library section for technique tutorials and exercises like this so they are easier to find. I'd love to what other folks do with this. I'm going to give it a try!

Dayle Ann

Deborah Secor
09-22-2007, 10:29 AM
Thanks, Dayle Ann. One thing you can do is rate any thread you think is worth saving. If enough people do that, the mods can more easily find it and put it in the library!

You might look for the ESPs= Explore Soft Pastels threads, too. It was a whole series of teaching threads I did, with others, while I was a Guide here.

I used green because landscape painters use it so much, but another fun one is white without white... have fun!


water girl
09-22-2007, 12:32 PM
THank you for posting your second painting. I have my magnifying glass out and will try to figure out which colors you used! Great job!

Deborah Secor
09-22-2007, 01:19 PM
:lol: Hope you can see the colors there, Karen. It isn't that complex, though. Just remember yellow + blue = green, or to complicate things even more:

yellow-orange + turquoise blue = gray-green
navy blue + yellow-green = blue-green or green-blue (depending on proportions used)
yellow-ochre + cobalt blue = warm green

...and then add the idea that you can make all these colors in a range from dark to light by using dark or light balues of these same colors!

Don't forget that you can either blend them or not. Layering always makes things more colorful and intersting. I sometimes do both in one area, blending first, then re-covering it with unblended layers of color and letting the optical blend do the work.

Isn't it fun? :D


09-22-2007, 01:30 PM
amazing- those are WONDERFUL greens- and lots of them- SUPER JOB !!!! what a lesson- will have to try this...

09-22-2007, 01:43 PM

Try the shirt and sock's colors - makes a great marshy, olive green!(i.e. - orange & PB15.4 blue)! :smug: .....'blue.............':wave:

Deborah Secor
09-22-2007, 10:40 PM
Yep--orange and 'that' blue would work too! I also love to spice things up with hot pink, magenta, deep red-violet, and blue-purple, too.

I have a 'recipe' for light and shadow in greens: on the sunlit side I use orange, while on the shadowed side I use purple. That seems to flavor the medium green nicely. (Remember that a recipe is meant to be made your own--add your own spices and flavorings to it, if you use it!)


09-23-2007, 09:24 AM
I did what you said about spicing it up - I used 'cloves' and 'basil' but it didn't turn out to good!:D ............'blue....':evil:

Deborah Secor
09-24-2007, 09:17 AM
Next time try saffron!


09-24-2007, 10:59 AM
wow - I tried it with 'cilantro' and 'chipotle chile pepper' and the painting looks like one of yours! :D

Deborah Secor
09-24-2007, 12:13 PM
Okay, now this I want to SEE: a 'blue' painting of chile pepper red in the shadows. :p


Mary Brigid
09-25-2007, 12:06 PM
Deborah... have been reading this and want to study your greens without greens theory more... when time allows me... I find it really informative and fasinating.... T
Thanks for all the time you give to us on WC
Mary Brigid

Deborah Secor
09-25-2007, 07:59 PM
You're very welcome, Mary Brigid!


Shirl Parker
03-30-2008, 10:45 AM
Deborah, the photo from this thread got lost. Can you reinsert it? Thanks.

03-30-2008, 02:43 PM
i'm just getting to the end of this thread too and also would love to see the image(s) reattached ... i imagine it mightn't be the easiest task so will express much appreciation in advance if it could be done !! ... :)

03-30-2008, 05:47 PM
Well this is interesting, I like the painting you have in here and to think this thread was started so long ago glad it made it back. You know my fav. artist said green should be outlawed, just don't use it. ( of course I don't totally agree with that but you sure make his point.)

Shirl Parker
03-30-2008, 05:59 PM
O, great. The pictures are back. Must have been another WC glitch.

Deborah Secor
03-30-2008, 10:10 PM
Oh, it's good to see this thread and the pix...glad they're here as I'm not sure I could sort them out again!

Scott, I guess we could do without greens as long as we have all the other colors. :D