It’s not easy being green

“Jamie’s waterfall,” 12X16, oil on canvasboard. Painted in two hours flat, and after
packing my car and driving six hours. Only possible because I was working with a color matrix.
We are at that moment when the greens of the northeast suddenly become massive, heavy, and sometimes overbearing to new painters. We love summer, we want to share how delicious it is… and then we hit the wall of green.
Sue Bailey Leo’s version
of my green matrix.
I paint with color matrices wherever possible because they speed the process up, and the more one can get out of one’s own way, the better things go. In the case of foliage, a matrix allows one to separate the different green tones in a painting.
I don’t generally paint with a green pigment on my palette (with the occasional exception of chromium oxide green because it’s the exact shade and weight of summer foliage in the northeast). Instead, I mix them:

This matrix is, top to bottom: black, ultramarine blue.
Left to right: Cad. lemon yellow (or Hansa yellow, depending on my mood), Indian yellow hue (or gamboge hue), yellow ochre.
That gives you nine yellows ranging from high-chroma to subdued, blue to almost orange. In addition, you can tweak each color to either side by adding more of one or the other component, and you can also tint each tone by adding white.
The same matrix, mixed and with the addition of a row of cad. orange in the “yellows”.
Sometimes I shake it up by adding a row of cadmium orange tints, as above.

I’ve taught with this matrix for years and can attest that it helps beginning painters escape the deadly weight of greens, fast. 
Sue Bailey Leo’s first trip out this season. Note
 how effectively she was able to separate the greens.
And here is me, painting in a creek this week. Never happier than when wet, cold, and totally into the process.
Painting in the creek in front of Jamie’s waterfall, at dusk. I loves my Keens!