I’ve discovered the pleasure of growing plants to brew tea from fresh leaves.  Rose Geranium tea is delicious!

Rose Scented Geraniums – Pelargonium Graveolens

Both of my Rose Scented Geraniums share a large, clay pot beside my back stoop.  I have an Old Fashioned Rose Scented Geranium and a Silver Edge Rose Scented Geranium.  They are both considered to be Pelargonium Graveolens.  The fragrance is delightful and the tea brewed from their leaves is refreshing and subtle.  A touch of raw honey from the bee hives across the street and I’m in heaven.

Never again will I moan over the multitude of greens in the summer.  As long as I stay either to the cool side headed toward gray as a neutralized green or the warm side headed toward brown as a neutralized green (depending on my color scheme) I can have the best of both warms and cools without conflict.  If I don’t become too distracted, I’ll paint a chart that illustrates my point.  In this painting I stayed on the side of grays rather than browns and was able to achieve both warm and cool variations in the leaves.  My palette was viridian, french ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, cadmium lemon and a touch of permanent crimson.  Note that they are all cool variations of their hues.  I did not use a warm green, a warm blue, a warm yellow or a warm red.

The greens I created are not realistic for a sunny day, but are quite close to the color of the geranium leaves on a bright but overcast day.  My choice was not based on reality anyway….. it was based on beautiful color and the joy of allowing pigment to mix on the paper, wet in wet creating gorgeous transitions from warm to coll and back again.

Color Scheme: Analogous

Drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor

This is the season for mixing greens if you are a plein air landscape painter.  A little time making quick color wheels can save hours of time in the field as well as a great deal of heartache when the greens on your paper or canvas don’t work well together.

Comparing greens resulting from two different blues

The little color wheels using only three pigments each are valuable tools, saving far more than the fifteen minutes it takes to make each one.  The two wheels illustrated here were painted with only one variation…. the blue.  Both wheels show Winsor Newton – New Gamboge as the yellow and  Winsor Newton – Permanent Carmine as the red.  The wheel on the left shows American Journey – Joe’s Blue (Phthalo) as the blue.  The wheel on the right shows Grumbacher – Ultramarine Blue as the blue.  Obviously the orange mixes are the same.  Notice that the purple mixes are fairly close.  The green mixes, however, are strikingly different.  Hopefully your monitor shows this difference.

When the wheels are placed atop one another, showing the greens of the two wheels next to one another as they might appear if you mixed them and used them in your painting, you will see that they don’t work well together at all.  Why? because they describe a different kind of light illumination on a landscape, perhaps a different weather condition or a different global location. I feel safe to say that it would be close to impossible to make them work well together in a painting.

One of the reasons many painters add a green to their palette (such as Viridian or Hookers) is to resolve this conflict of greens mixed with different blues.  By adding a pigment that falls between the yellow and the blue, the temperature of your yellow plus blue mixes can be altered without turning to mud.  Once again …. charts should be made so you know what works well together for you.

The color wheels are created using watercolor.  Oil and acrylics will mix giving similar results, but I recommend making comparison color wheels in those mediums, too, in addition to the quick watercolor wheels.

 

The variations of greens in the landscape is both fantastic and challenging.

Muddy Hole Road, en plein air landscape oil painting, 6″ x 12″

The day was overcast, the light beautiful yet flat.  The challenge was to create the illusion of space within areas of similar hue (green) and similar value (mid-value range).  I premixed about eight piles of greens on my palette, variations of warm and cool greens of slightly different values.  With these piles to easily dip into, I responded more intuitively to the landscape in front of me, not having to stop to refocus on mixing paint.  I easily varied the mixes by adding a bit from other piles without being concerned that the new mix might not be harmonious. I could focus on what, for me, is a bigger challenge …… painting the tops of trees where the light flickers through between the tips of branches and leaves  revealing bits and pieces of the sky.  It is so easy to get overly fussy and create stiff-looking trees.  I was pleased that I retained the airy feeling of the trees in this little painting, as well as the cool green grassiness of the phragmites leaves in the foreground.

painting: plein air landscape, oil painting, 6″ x 12″ canvas, painted over a terra rosa underpainting wash.