Bellbird – Painting of a bird in a flax flower and a lesson about mixing greens in watercolor

Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300 gsm (140 lb) Watercolour Paper
485mm x 190mm
(19 in x 7 1/2 in)
© Susan Harrison-Tustain

A picnic stopover at Mavora Lakes, Southland, on a back road to Lake Wakatipu and Walter Peek. So pure and so clear the Bellbird call drew our attention to this slightly nectar inebriated songster dashing amongst the flax flowers.

See more new original paintings on my exhibition page.

Mixing Greens

You will see I have created a number of different greens in this watercolor painting. Flax bushes are often a blue green on the under side and as the leaves turn away from the light – they tend to be a more yellow green on the front.
How do I create these watercolor greens? We all know that when a surface faces the sky – it is influenced by the blue or grey of the sky color. So you can see that very clearly in this painting. I use much less yellow in my green mix to give this illusion. My green mix is Schmincke Sap Green and a touch of Thalo Blue. If I need to grey the blue/green color a little – I add a tiny touch of Scarlet Red.

You can see the area away from the light is a richer more vibrant green. I use my  underwash of Aureolin Yellow Modern in these areas. I let it dry and then add my Sap Green, a touch of Thalo Blue and Aureolin Yellow. If I need a pale color – I simply use more water. You can see how I push my greens from warm to cool, light to dark, rich to pale. Painting green leaves is a fantastic way to learn how you can create a three dimension by allowing a color to dominate.

For example: more blue will give the impression of the sky affecting the green. More yellow in your green mix will give the impression that part of the leaf is away from the effect of the sky. A warm green gives the effect of the leaf being affected by shadow. Learn how to paint green leaves by creating a similar type of leaf. You will find these lessons invaluable. Not only for mixing greens but it will teach you how to apply this color theory to any of your color mixes – no matter whether they are oil paintings, watercolor paintings, pastel studies or acrylic paintings. It is all about observation. Have a look at the video below to learn more about the perfect green!
Have fun!

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