The Color Green
Untitled (Two Pears)
By Georgia O'Keefe
Oil on board
8 7/8 in. x 10 in.
Extended loan from The Burnett Foundation
to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum
The color green is tricky.
An artist friend, suggested that "A little bit of green, can make a lady out of red". This made me wonder who, or what they thought the red was, before they added green. Under the power of suggestion, I looked down at my palette, and the blobs of english red began to morph into the street-walker, Scarlotta Carmine. There was a minor scuffle, and a swath of fabric was tossed in the air. And what do I see? But my own Scarlotta, utterly transformed into venetian royalty, simply by adding a bit of sap green into the shadowy folds of her velvet dress.
The color green, has one of those personalities that is disarmingly simple at first glance, yet is prone to a rebellious nature. It shouts pithy barbs at me, when I try to coax it out of my palette and brush. Phthalocyanine green and I, simply do agree about anything, and it has been banished to the bottom of the pochade box. Nature has a way of getting this wild child, to not only cooperate, but perform magnificantly! One only has to look at the complexity of greens in the palm trees that march in place along the ridge of hills that recede behind the harbor. The hues of blue-gray greens, dead straw colored fronds and orangy-green glints of the evanescence seem to co-exist without incident.
There is a particular shade of spring green, that I have only seen on the new leaves of a sapling Sycamore tree. One that was backlit from the not-yet-noon sun. We were painting out doors at a private rural setting in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, and artist Morgan Ogilvy captured this color - exquisitely. I shall never forget the emotional impact of her completed painting of that Sycamore tree. http://www.independencetrust.com/morgan/index.html
I have found great help with my ongoing challenge concerning the color green, from the guidance offered by a few of the master artists. Georgia O'Keefe is one such artist. Her name-sake museum, The Georgia O'Keefe Museum, had a lecture on the color green. Entitled "Green, Green and Green", the lecture was one of the museum's presentations on color and conservation. Georgia O'Keefe was reported to have at least 12 different tubes of green paint that she used. A snippet from the lecture indicated that, "A Nobel Prize winning chemist speculated that green could be used as a primary color, and Georgia owned the book he wrote for painters. Green can be found in so many of her paintings perhaps, she experimented with his theory". http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/visit/press/index.html .
Twelve tubes of green? At that rate, painting en plein air would require me to mobilize a foot locker of supplies. On wheels. My limited "field" palette, rewards me with the seemingly limitless possibilities of greens, if I simply mix a gamboge (PY151 & PO62) with the raw sienna, yellow ochre and an iron blue in my rig. Not only are these my best workhorses, but they are fine stable-mates and have a unifying effect on work that might otherwise leap off into the relm of quinacridone violet (PV19), when no one is looking.
And so it goes...
© 2007 M. Sonoqui Gillette. All rights reserved.