Over the next few days I’ll be doing a number of “quick studies” for my “Mood and Atmosphere” project. These studies will focus on color theory. I recently did a series of acrylic pourings using various color schemes, and I’ll be doing something similar now only with landscape painting.
When I do a “quick study” it’s alla prima, that is, completed in a single session at the easel. Because the point is to focus on a specific aspect of art, I direct my attention there. A “quick study” takes less than 30 minutes. I make no elaborate preparations. I don’t concern myself too much with composition. I don’t create thumbnail sketches, nor do I carefully draw the scene on my canvas.
My assignment today was to create a monochromatic landscape painting. The reference illustration I was working from was done using yellow green. Normally I would mix a yellow green, but I still have a lot of tubes from my Mont Marte water-soluble oil set, one of which is named Yellow Green. So instead of mixing my own, I opted to use it.
In doing a monochromatic painting, the artist uses a single color, changing its value by adding black for darker shades and white for lighter tints. This was the same method I used for my Viridian Green monochrome painting.
Here’s the result of my quick “yellow-green” study:
It was fun to take my single tube of yellow-green paint and see how many different effects I could make from it. I mixed in a lot of black in some places. In other places I lightened the “core color”. Some places were painted with the color as it comes straight from the tube.
The purpose of my 100-day adventure is to learn how to bring mood and atmosphere into my landscape art. Much of that comes from color. Green, of course, is often — but not always — predominant in landscape painting. It is generally a “cooler” color, and is usually said to be calming and soothing.
I found this interpretation from Empowered by Color:
The color green relates to balance and harmony. From a color psychology perspective, it is the great balancer of the heart and the emotions, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart.
From a meaning of colors perspective, green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. It renews and restores depleted energy. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of well being. This is why there is so much of this relaxing color on the earth, and why we need to keep it that way.
Green is an emotionally positive color, giving us the ability to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally. A natural peacemaker, it must avoid the tendency to become a martyr.
Honestly, I don’t feel much emotion in this quick study. It doesn’t feel especially soothing or calming to me, nor do I find it representative of any balance and harmony. To me, it’s more a hodge-podge of shades and tints of yellow-green, and since that’s really what it was intended to be, I suppose I can say I successfully completed the assignment.
I’m definitely getting in a lot of good practice with mixing colors and with creating a range of shades and tints. This exercise — creating monochrome paintings — is a very helpful one. I recommend it highly.