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Old 03-15-2011, 03:51 PM
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Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

I have been studying Jeanne Dobie's book, Making Color Sing, with my painting friend. Each Tuesday, we work through a chapter and then try to use what we've learned by painting a composition of our own choosing.

Back in September of 2008, I led a Monthly Class entitled The Green Scene where we explored mixing our colours along with some tree studies. At that time, I came to the conclusion (personally) that mixed greens were uninteresting, dull and boring. As a reference, I was using Michael Wilcox's book Yellow and Blue Don't Make Green. It's an excellent resource, but it really didn't help me much with my greens. His School of Color has an online article about Mixing Greens. Sadly, this didn't help me very much, either.

I was looking forward to this chapter in Jeanne's book, because I hoped that I would finally get a good grasp on these mixes. I don't mind telling you how shocked I was that she used Phthalo Green R.S. or Viridian as her base, adjusting it with yellows, blues and/or reds.

So... last week, my friend and I embarked on our own to have another look at how to mix greens from the blues and yellows on our palettes. I will say, that Jeanne's chapter on Octanic Colour had an impact on how I approached this exercise... and it made a huge difference in the resulting mixes.

The first thing I felt I needed to do, was identify the bias of my yellows and blues. It took four attempts at this little wheel before I got it right... It doesn't really mean very much on its own, except to identify the blues that have a red hue, or a green hue and the yellows that have a green hue or an orange hue. It was important to understand these biases when mixing CLEAR greens.

For instance, if I mixed hansa yellow that has a green bias and ultramarine blue that has a red bias, the resulting green is dull. It's dull because green and red are mixing complements which will neutralize the mixed green. Michael Wilcox coins this occurrence as a compound colour.

My Yellow and Blue colour wheel:


I spent quite a bit of time visiting our Colour Theory Forum asking questions about colour temperature. We must understand that overall, we can assess the temperature of a set of colours, or a composition... but, we can't really discern whether or not one blue (or yellow or red) is warmer or cooler than another. They do not recommend this terminology in trying to arrive at good mixes. Instead, they suggested that we address the hue, value and chroma of each colour.

Confused yet? Stay tuned...

Ok... once I understood the colour bias (actually it's the hue) of my blues and yellows, I then created a mixing chart with a one-to-one ratio of pigment. I really wasn't interested in value assessment at this time...



Understanding the bias of my yellows, and then mixing them with like-biased blues created a gorgeous variation of natural colours that can be used in any composition. This simple little chart can become my own personal "base" mixtures that can be further dulled with reds, brightened with more yellows, cooled with blues... or simply diluted with water.

But, where is Jeanne Dobie when we need her? Getting out her book again, and reviewing the chapter, she prefers viridian green as her base. That vibrant green can be mixed with various yellows and blues, dulled with reds and diulted with water to create a myriad of mixtures. It's all good.

Phthalo blue will result in very similar colour. The phthalo is a little stronger and very staining. The advantage of viridian is that it will lift where the phthalo will not,.

I don't have viridian. Based on the mixed greens from my first chart, I do not plan to buy viridian soley on the basis that I can lift it. Phthalo will have to do...

What my friend and I accomplished today, was just a couple of charts. We each set up a blue + green chart and a yellow + green chart. Rather than restricting our charts to phthalo (my friend doesn't have viridian, either), we used all the greens on our respective palettes. Hers is acrylic so it's not relevant here.

Anyway... here's my blue chart...


I played a little with Permanent Rose (PV19) on the bottom row.

Then, we mixed up a yellow chart.


I decided to see what effect burnt sienna and perinone orange would have on my mixtures.

Overall, I'm certainly not as thrilled with these two charts as with the first one. These colours are definitely beautiful and for the most part, they're clean and clear.

My final thought today is that I've done a 180 degree turn from my thoughts in 2008. I prefer the yellow and blue mixes from my first chart and just might remove my tube greens from my palette! The jury's still out on that one for a little while, though...

I'd love to hear your thoughts about all this... and I'll be posting my painting as soon as it's finished... I'm about halfway through it and it will be the very first landscape I've ever painted that I'm actually pleased with...

Next week my friend and I are attacking the DARKS!!!
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:19 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

A wonderful analysis Char. After years of using mixed greens I now have Hookers Green Dark and Winsor Green on my palette. I still mix most of my greens however.

Doug
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:02 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Thank you Char.Looking at the greens above, I am noticing what greens make sense to me based on what I have grown up with in Ireland or maybe to be more accurate, what I have noticed.I wonder are there different greens relevant to different continents? Looking at the English landscape tradition, you will see the likes of John Yardley initially use Cad Yellow and Phthalo for all his greens to begin and then modifies them with a red.This strikes me as a bit like mixing the yellow with an Ultra which has the red already.Andrew Pitt, another English artist keeps it simple and says that he uses his deepest yellow and a blue for his deepest greens and his lightest yellow for his lightest green.But he will still throw in a Sienna to modify.I am not experienced enough but I feel that unless a very acidic green is required, then there is nearly always a red in the mix somewhere, especially for greens relevant to my neck of the woods, where along with the Raw Sienna and Ultra , the greens with the Sap and Hookers mix above strike the nearest chord with me.But I wonder when using these last two, does one run the risk of losing congruency in the painting by introducing another colour not in the rest of the painting or does one colour like Sap or Hookers when introduced make much of a difference?
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:30 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Wonderful Char, I have been wondering about this and experiment with triads, but have not done the charts like this yet......I have one other yellow to add, WN transparent yellow (nickel azo PY 150), with which I can get bright greens with UB. It must be a cool yellow. I'll work out a chart and post it.

My instinct also says that it must be cleaner colour to start with just blue and yellow, and I think you just proved it above. I have a couple of tube greens but don't use them now.
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:38 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

I've been really enjoying your Dobie-inspired posts and exercises, Char; thanks! I'm a Colors Singing fan, too.

I tend, being a visual type, to scan the images first, then read (bet most here do that).

This time I was quite struck by how differently I interpreted your results.

After carefully comparing charts, I started in on your text, certain your conclusion would be the same as mine: Look how much richer, clearer and wider a range of greens came from adding blues and yellows to green pigments, compared to simply mixing blues and yellows! Especially at the outer reaches of the greens continuum… And see how all the greens in the first chart are there in the second two as well, in the middle?

So, I was more than a little taken aback to read this:
I prefer the yellow and blue mixes from my first chart and just might remove my tube greens from my palette!

Usually I can see a less-is-more argument, but not here (or in my palettes), for myself, of course. What is it you don't like about the starting-with-greens options?

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Old 03-15-2011, 08:36 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Hi Doug... I think we've changed places! I've been advocating tube greens for the longest time and you've been mixing them yourself for as long as I can remember. The truth is, there are merits to both approaches.

Hi Larry... you're raising an excellent point about the atmospheric and geographical effects on our colour... Yes, greens are especially different around the world. In the very hot and dry areas, such as Escobedo Mexico where I worked for three years, the greens there were much duller and redder than the verdent greens of the rainy West Coast where my Son lives.

Seasonal greens are decidedly different as well... with the new greens of spring casting more yellow that the deep and rich greens of summer that turn to red-cast greens of fall...

The other point to remember, is that when using tube greens such as sap or hookers, we're already using a mix. Therefore, introducing a third pigment potentially leads us to that slippery slope of muddy and dull colour.

When planning palette colours for a painting, I guess we need to be cognizant of what will be used in mixing to ensure overall colour harmony... I never said this would be easy...

Hi Lynn... I've been following your gouache progress and I love where it's taking you! From all the reading I've been doing, azo yellow is almost neutral... that is, it really doesn't have a pronounced green or orange bias. That makes it excellent for mixing with the other primaries. It's important to note again that ultramarine has a red bias. So, if you mix a *cool* yellow with it, you might not be please because of the green bias. And we know that green and red are complements, dulling the final mix.

Hi David... I agree with you about the surprise... And the small images on the monitor don't do justice to the actual results of my charted colours.

What I did find was that blue tends to dominate the mixes in all cases. And care must be taken to keep it from overwhelming everything. The tube greens are more easily influenced that the yellow+blue mixes. I found that I had greater control of the outcome when I avoided my tubes. As I said in my first post, the jury's still out as to whether or not I remove them from my palette.

I am painting a Carolinian forest as my exercise and using only my yellow+blue mixes, my variations are clean and clear. I'm very happy with those results so far...

I love *green continuum*...

If anyone is making charts, please share them!
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:02 AM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Wonderful analysis and illustrations of your studies on mixing greens, Char.

I still like DS's Undersea Green as a realistic green for vegetation. I like the convenience of several of my tube greens, but I do usually alter them with additions of other colors as Jeanne Dobie advocates in her book.

I'm adding this thread to the Watercolor Handbook in the Green section of the Colors portion.

I'm also giving you a 5* rating for sharing your studies with the rest of us.

Sylvia
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:12 AM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Char;
Thanks for posting – this is great stuff.

I am wondering which pigment numbers are used in your hooker’s and sap greens, as I think that may vary by manufacturer.

I live in the great basin desert, where the greens are much different than a wet coastal region. I have been trying for some time to come up with a good sagebrush green that is based on other colors that would be used in a desert landscape palette. Depending on the time of year sage can vary in color somewhat but is almost always leaning to a silvery gray. The closest I have come so far is Fatal Blue (Phthalo) and Burnt Umber. I hope to post some of my mixes soon.

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Old 03-16-2011, 11:19 AM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Thanks Syl... for the stars, especially! As you know, I bought Undersea Green on your recommendation and I really do use it right out of the tube. It is a very natural, deep green that has a permanent home on my palette.

Hi Glade... yes, I've seen those colours in the desert areas around Escobedo... It's a little town near Monterrey and located in the bowl of the Sierra Madres... Hot and dry... there were greens, of course, in the various cacti that thrived. And the periwinkle that was planted as ground cover rather than grass...

So... Hooker's Green... Are you ready for this? Any wonder we're confused?

Rembrandt: PG7+PY150
Rowney Artists: PG7+PY3+PV19 (hooker's #2 dark)
Rowney Artists: PG7+PY153 (hooker's #1 light)
MaimeriBlue: PG7+PO49
M. Graham: PG7+PY110
Utrecht: PG8 (very fugitive)
Daniel Smith: PG36+PO49+PY3
Winsor & Newton: PG36+PY110
DaVinci: PG7+PY41 (dark)
DaVinci: PG7+PY42 (light)
Holbein: PG36+PY83
Schmincke: PG15:3+PG7+PY42

Can you BELIEVE that not one of those Hooker's greens is made with the same pigments as their neighbours??? I'm actually shocked that every single manufacturer uses something different in their formulation...

Oh... the other thing I needed to mention here is that some of these formulations have three pigments in them... do you suppose we're in danger of making mud when we try to alter them by adding more yellow, blue or even red?

And... here's Sap Green

Rembrandt: PY150+PG7
Rowney Artists: PG7+PY169+PR101
MaimeriBlue: PY139+PO43+PG7
M. Graham: PG7+PY110
Daniel Smith: PG7+PO49
Winsor & Newton: PG36+PY110
DaVinci: PG7+PY42
Holbein: PY17+PG8+PG36
Schmincke: PY153+PG7

There you have it... a couple manufacturers use similar pigments... but, their process probably ensures a difference in the appearance of their tubed colours...

What all of this does, David (dpcoffin), is reinforce my determination to get it right by mixing my greens with my own yellows and blues...
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:41 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

As a curiosity, because there's been a few questions now and again about the new line of Dick Blick paints. So, I thought I'd see what their hooker's and sap tubes are mixed up with...

Dick Blick: Hooker's Deep - PB15:4+PY97+PY153+PBk6
Dick Blick: Hooker's Light - PB15:3+PG7+PY153+PBk6

Dick Blick: Sap Green - PO48+PY150+PB15:4+PG7

Really? FOUR pigments? Wow...

Ok... if you must use a tube green as Jeanne Dobie along with most of her fellow artists, the obvious choice would be a single pigment colour. Or, at the very least a convenience green with only two pigments.

Pretty much all the manufacturers offer Viridian PG18. It's colour has a blue cast, it's transparent and it will lift well.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:57 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Char,
All my tube greens have two pigments except for Daler Rowney Cobalt Green Deep PB36 and Maimeri Blue Verde Oliva (Olive Green) PG 17 (both are opaque colors) Daniel Smith Perylene Green PBk 31 (semi opaque).

My favorite tube green is Daniel Smith's Undersea Green PB29 + PO49.

Holbein Viridian is PG 18 + PG 7 on my color chart.

This is such an informative thread. Thanks for starting it.

Sylvia
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:05 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharM
What all of this does, David (dpcoffin), is reinforce my determination to get it right by mixing my greens with my own yellows and blues...

I get it!

I was of course reacting as much subjectively as simply to what I saw in your charts (of which I primarily noted the lovely intense blue and yellow greens you got from phthalo; how could anyone not love those?), and since I've never used either Sap Green or Hooker's, my subjective response didn't even consider them.

That response was "What, no phthalo YS, viridian, cobalt, perylene, or gold, or earth greens? And what about those gorgeous PrimaTeks: Amazonite, Diopside, Apatite, Jadite, Serpentine, and the delicious Zoisite??"

Love 'em all, but in practice and for practicality's sake, I'd only really stand on cobalt and perylene, maybe viridian and my one convenience green, phthalo yellow. But I do love those Primateks… And regular old phthalo green, too , I guess, altho I'm allergic to staining.

I'm definitely NOT a less-is-more kinda guy when it comes to palettes (yes, plural, very plural!)

Thanks again for all these detailed and fascinating posts. More charts welcome

dpc
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:29 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

I love watching your learning progress Char. And the conclusions you are coming to! I use a lot of greens in my paintings and usually mix my own. I usually end up making endless variations within a painting so I'll mix the base green in a well on the palette so I'm consistent from day to day - I have something to match and can take off from there. The only tube greens I really ever reach for are Green Gold (which is not really green) and Perylene Green for dark shadowed greens. I'm not going for the Perylene as often as I used to... Diox Purple has entered the mix for rich darks! In the past I have used Undersea Green as well and it's got it's place.

For a sage green I'd go with Winsor Lemon (transparent) and a clear warm blue. Touched down with Quin Magenta where necessary... applied in thin washes so the dull color of the sage doesn't end up being dull paint... if that makes any sense.
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:32 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

thanks- you explain it in such simple tyerms i really apprecaite this- its good to know all of this- so you can always throw it all away if you want to- and just do your own thing - what works for you- but i think to know what you are rejecting first- to know your stuff and to learn about colours and what they do and how they work-is important- know what you are rejecting and rebelling against before you do it- so for this reason i think this thread and colour theory is essential reading- not necessarily essential to follow-do what works for you but know why you are mixing certain colours and to know what you are doing is important.

ill stop waffling one of these days- someone get me a cyber hammer and bump me on the head with it
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:38 PM
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Re: Jeanne Dobie's Mixing Greens - and Mixing Darks

This is a really interesting discussion. I think for my purposes, landscape, the single pigment mixes are the best, but of course for still life, or people with bright clothing, or street scenes, you might need the brighter greens you get by using a tube green, or at least blending with viridian. Different strokes for different uses.
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