Green, green, everywhere!!

Here’s the painting that I shared last week that I submitted for a critique from Paul Talbot Greaves for my ‘Using greens in watercolour’ course.

This was the third of my attempts at this scene and I thought it might be helpful for others to get a flavour of the type of feedback and comments that Paul provides. Here’s what Paul had to say about this effort:

“You’ve really created a strong sense of light here John. As a painting it works well. As a
painting of spring, I think there are a couple of necessary considerations. One is the bright
green is dominant, so the inclusion of the orange is fine, but mix a bit more green
through it on the paper so that you ‘warm’ the green without overly changing colour. On
the left, your shades are a bit over ‘toned’ and the green is turning grey. To reflect the
ambience of light, keep grey out of your colour by mixing the green with ultramarine or
cobalt blue or even a Winsor blue. Bluebells are sent by the devil to the watercolourist
because of the violet and green combination. Either mask them first then colour later, or
use very careful wet against wet , or apply violet gouache after the painting is complete.”

Paul is providing this type of feedback for around 50 or so other painters that are taking this course too so it’s no mean feat to review this many paintings and provide a constructive commentary on each one!

In some ways I was at first a little disappointed with this feedback and I had to have a stern word with myself to remind myself that I’m on this course to learn and develop, not to be falsely flattered!

With this in mind I set about the next tasks with renewed gusto. The theme of the next exercise is ‘grey greens’ and, without watching Paul’s demonstration painting but instead only following the step by step notes on Pauls accompanying worksheet, here’s a quick A5 sketch:

homework sketch

The view, Paul explained, is purposefully simple to encourage participants to really engage with the theme and to focus on the colour mixing. I quite liked this sketch and, because I’m in need of a portrait format landscape image for the new website, I thought I’d try a portrait format version of this painting:

Suffice to say, this painting won’t be featuring on the new website! Although I quite enjoyed painting it, I just don’t think it works in this composition, and nor do I think I painted it as well as I would have liked.

Back to the original reference photo then and, this time, after watching Paul’s video demonstration, I was much happier with this next attempt:

Based on what we’re being encouraged to consider, there’s still room for improvement with this effort, particularly with featuring greater variety in the trees, but this felt good to do, especially when it features as much green as it does!

I still have until Monday before I need to submit anything so I’m sure I’ll manage another attempt or two of this scene.

From the sketchbook

I’m continuing to try to balance out the workshop activities with other sketchbook work and paintings where I can. These two sketches are both from my hometown of Brigthon, one a busy bustling pedestrian shopping street, the other a quiet residential street, right outside my front door:

I continue to enjoy doing these quick and loose sketches and am sure that they can only lead to even greater confidence with my composition, colour mixing and brushwork on larger paintings.

New website coming soon

My new website is coming along nicely and, with the designer, I have agreed a nominal launch date to work towards. With a fair wind, this could be as early as next week! Equally, it could also be another month away, but I just wanted to let you know so that you could keep an eye out for it!

Hopefully, you won’t have anything to do in order to continue to receive my weekly blog posts, but on top of these, I will be inviting people to join a separate mailing list for news about any exhibitions that I have coming up or if I have any website offers on my work, whether that’s batches of new work uploaded to the galleries or any sales and discounts etc.

I’m excited at the prospect of launching the new site and also slightly apprehensive too! One of the my goals with the new site is to promote the paintings that are available to buy more effectively and to make the buying of paintings simpler. All of this should be relatively straightforward but it still feels like a major step for me!

Thoughts on Green, green, everywhere!!

6 thoughts on “Green, green, everywhere!!”

  1. Nice, John, but, what exact greens are you using here? As an occasional and mostly on vacation watercolour artist, I tend to rely on Sap Green, and mix other greens using the Lemon Yellow, Cad Yellow, Yellow Ocre, Ultramarine, Prussian Blue and Ivory Black that I have in my tiny Windsor and Newton Field Box (I set it up to include colours that would allow me to paint portraits as well as landscapes, plants and nature) Do you think these are good choices or do you think I would be better off adding a different green? (Maybe Hookers Green, perhaps????) And are you able to tell me WHY whenever I buy a ready filled box like this they insist on giving me Viridian???? I did tell you last week that I had some questions about greens for you….Don’t know if you have any answers for me, however!!! (I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing your new website, btw, sounds very exciting!!)

    1. Hi Hilda! I may not be able to answer all of you questions, but I’ll try my best! In the most recent exercises of the trees, there isn’t any ‘tube’ green on the grass, or background hills etc. The grass is done with an initial wash of Winsor Yellow (from the notes, it was supposed to be Winsor Lemon Yellow but I don’t have that!) over which a wash of cerrulean mixed with the Winsor Yellow was applied. The trees used Sap green as a base green to which variations are achieved with ultramarine, burnt sienna, alizarin crismon and, in places, cerrulean blue. I think a lot of it comes to personal choice – or depending on the greens in your environment – as to which ‘green’ you might use as a base green. I was a bit like you about viridian but, the more i play with it, the more I like it. I have, for the time being at least, replaced the cad yellow in my palette with Winsor Yellow since doing this course! (and I’m looking forward to experimenting with Lemon Yellow when the tube I’ve ordered eventually arrives!)

  2. The trouble is that if you’re charging money to be helpful, you’ve got to say something or other! I think you’ll find he thought your picture was great – like the rest of us – but felt you’d appreciate him giving you a few thoughts. It’s in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? Anyway, you seem to be getting thoroughly absorbed in green so it must be doing you some good! It must be refreshing to turn away from it from time to time – hence your other sketches; and they’re very good, too. You see, you’ll never get a bad word out of me…

    1. Ah, yes, I see your point Rob! I should know better than to take constructive criticism personally! You’d have thought after all this time that I’d have developed a thicker skin by now – especially after some of the comments that I’ve received! I do think that I’m gradually feeling less intimidated by greens now which could potentially open up a huge range of new possibilities for me! Many thanks for your kind words Rob (although now I’m still wondering if I need to pay you to be completely honest with me!)

  3. Hi John,
    I really like your painting of the ‘Street where you live’ la la la la!😁, I also like the figures in it. There’s a great sense of light too! I think you did well with the greens though I do find them a bit overwhelming, and feel they rather divide the page in half without a counter balance on the right side.
    However I think you did a good job with that surfeit of green. I had always thought the wonderful David Curtis added a little violet in his greens, so that is perhaps a thought?
    So glad you have found a group to paint with…I’m sure you’ll enjoy that as the weather improves.
    Happy painting
    Carole 😍

    1. Thanks so much for this Carole and I hope you’re well! Quite understand about the green being so overwhelming! I think one of the tricks that I’m still trying to fathom is to keep constantly varying the green, almost with every brushstroke. I think you’re right about David Curtis, and in some of the work I’ve done to date in the course, we have added touches of Winsor Violet into some of the mixes. It’s all heading in the right direction in terms of building up my understanding and confidence in using green, and it’s nice to be able to put it into practice when I’m out with the new painting group! (though I’m especially looking forward to some warmer outings!) All the best Carole, John

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