Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Strategy For Tree Color Mixing

Notes From my "Ask Blondheim" Column
I write a question and answer column on Facebook and my Art Notes Blog. This topic may be useful for Florida or Southern tree painters. Naturally each tree painter uses their own technique and mixtures. I paint north Florida most of the time and these mixes work for me.
Linda, What is your favorite palette for mixing tree canopies?

A lot depends on where you live as to the best color for tree canopy greens, as well as the season , time of year.  Here in north central Florida, I like to use a combination of Ivory Black, Ultramarine Blue and a bit of Cadmium Yellow medium in winter for the darkest parts of the canopy. As I add color and light to the branches of leaves, I add more cadmium yellow and less black to the mix. I will also use various warms as needed, such as cadmium orange, yellow ochre, and cad red to the mixture to warm it up for winter and fall. Slow and gradual adjustments in the color mixes work great for me. You can also make nice darks with trans red oxide and ultramarine or cad red deep with sap green.

I have found that my favorite green mix for Live Oak trees is either ultramarine with yellow ochre or thalo blue red shade with yellow ochre. As light intensifies in some areas of the canopy, I begin to add a bit of cad yellow medium or cad orange to that mixture, but not over doing it.

For summer mixtures, there is more cool green, so I switch to cadmium lemon yellow and ochre for my mixing yellows, and ultramarine and thalo for the dark cool greens. I stay away from black for summer painting, unless I want to mix true grays, because the greens are too olive with black for summer, when the canopies tend toward a blue green. Remember to warm your greens use the warmer part of the color wheel like reds, oranges and warm yellows. To cool your greens use more blue and cooler yellows. If your mixture gets out of control and too intense, use black to make a grayer green or red to tone down the intensity, just a bit.

For trunks, I use black, white, cad red light, cad orange, red iron oxide, UB, in various mixes. I like to add a blue cast to the dark edge and a blue gray to limbs moving away from the viewer to show atmospheric and distant quality to the limbs. Here in the south, there will be limbs covered in various green mosses, so a bit of cad yellow or ochre will take care of that. I usually will lighten and soften limbs and twigs that reach up into the sky, so there is a softer transition in that part of the canopy.

Have fun experimenting and and thanks for your question.


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