IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
Almost as soon as we take-up painting we start hearing rumours about the colour green. The main two are that it’s difficult to use, and that green paintings are hard to sell. Firstly, the difficulty aspect of green is true. So few artists can handle green well, and despite that there are more green paintings that you can poke a tree at.
Discovering good greens is a triumph for a painter, and mostly, they don’t come straight out of a tube. Many artists don’t have a tube-green on their palette, preferring to mix the greens from other colours. Other artists, like myself use a base green but always mix it with other colours. Veridian is a great traffic light green mixed with white, and used in conjunction with other colours like yellow ochre or Sienna it can produce wonderful muted greens. Mixed with cadmium yellow it can make vivid sunlit greens. Every artist has their own little favourites.
Even though green may have a bad reputation there are artists that can make it sing. While walking around the recent Camberwell Art Show I was asked by a group of artists if I had seen anything I really liked. I had, and green figured largely in it. I have attached the painting in question (Sundance 2 - No 1 Collins Street) by Melbourne artist Joe Blundell. Joe has only recently begun life as an artist and has a great story about that on his website (joeblundell.com.au)
Joe's painting at Camberwell combines the green with the greys of buildings behind them, and it is superb. Greens are on their best behaviour when they have a grey backdrop, and this is borne out on a grey stormy day when a sunlit tree is back-dropped by a grey brooding sky. For me it was the stand-out painting of the show. Notice the subtle greens within the shadows of the walls too.
Green paintings don't sell?
Well, Joe's did, and at 168x122cm it didn't come cheap. I think we can say that good green paintings sell! As far as greens go, Australia is the lucky country. We have all the greens seen in Europe but also the wonderful grey-blue and golden greens of the gums and other growth. Getting greens right is a journey that is well-worth undertaking, and it takes some experimenting - this is one of the joys of being a painter.