Joen Wolfrom’s Playing with Color: How Green is Green?Joen Wolfrom | July 20, 2011
Today is green day. I have rarely met a green I didn’t like, so I am excited about featuring this diverse group of colors.
Since most vegetation is green, it’s not hard to believe that green is the most prevalent color in nature. What’s really important to realize is green is not just green. The word green is not only used as a name of a color; but it is also the name of a range of green colors that vary in their makeup and personalities. This green spectrum includes six colors: chartreuse, yellow-green, spring green, green, blue-green, and aqua green. If you gaze into a garden or a woodland, it would not be surprising to see the total green spectrum represented in trees, shrubs, plants, and grasses.
Notice how beautiful the range of greens are—moving from warm chartreuse to cool aqua green. The green that lies between spring green and blue-green is temperature neutral—it doesn’t have a leaning toward warmth or coolness. Its name is green. You can see the three green families on one side of this green appear warm while the two green families on the other side appear cool. (Color temperature will be addressed in a future blog.)
Green has some definite characteristics that you may wish to consider before beginning a project featuring green. They inc
1. Green represents the season of spring. It symbolizes fertility, rebirth, and youth.
2. Green represents earth, nature, and the environment.
3. The color green physically relaxes our eyes. This creates a sense of natural calming.
4. The color green is considered a peaceful color that promotes harmony.
5. Because yellow-green and chartreuse are closely related to yellow, they can be visually stimulating.
6. Most earth, nature, and environmentally related businesses and organizations use green hues for their logos, signage, and advertisements.
7. Because it is believed that green evokes a sense of calmness and peacefulness, a green paint is often used on the walls of governmental institutions, hospitals, and businesses. When green is used on walls for a calming influence, it is important that the paint chosen be from a hue in the green family, which promotes these emotions. The paint should not be derived from a warm-colored green, such as spring green or yellow-green.
8. I hesitate to include this last little tidbit of color psychology, but I shall: If you are a man and you are heading for a job interview, do not wear strongly-colored green clothing, if you want to be hired. If you wear bright green, it’s almost certain you won’t get the job because there is an innate feeling of distrust for men wearing strong green colors. There are three exceptions that come to mind—-if you are a golfer, you can get away with wearing anything. Also, if you are on vacation, who cares what you wear? If you are a sports player or a fan of a team that uses bright green as one of its team colors, then you are safe.
Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful range of greens that are available to us:
Because chartreuse lies so close to yellow and gets much of its parentage from yellow, it has much of the same exuberant, eye-catching personality as yellow. There are many variations of pure chartreuse (a later color topic), some that lean more toward yellow while others have a bit more green in their makeup. The pure brilliant forms of chartreuse can be changed to suit your needs, simply by whitening, graying, or blackening the color. You can see subtle variations in the leaves above.
Chartreuse is a bright, cheerful color that requires our full attention when used in its purest form. If you use chartreuse as the featured color, you will have a very vibrant outcome. Chartreuse is an excellent accent and in landscape art, it creates wonderful natural highlights.
You can see a beautiful array of chartreuse hues in this closeup of a blossom that is quite different from the chartreuse coloring of leaves in the photo image above..
Yellow-green is another beautiful, bright warm green. The mossy rocks in this Smoky Mountains waterfall are an example of yellow-green in a natural setting. This green has more turquoise (more about this in a future post) in its makeup than chartreuse, so it’s not quite as attention-getting, but it can still be very eye-catching. Yellow-green can be very luscious, especially when blackened. Gardens, woodlands, and forests are filled with wonderful examples of yellow-green vegetation.
The yellow-green grass in this lake overlooking Mount Rainier offers a visual punch to the scene. It provides spirited warmth when coolness abounds.
Spring green is a lovely green with a hint of warmth to it. It is the green of new grass and early leaves in springtime. Again, as in other colors, this green varies in the amount of warmth it evokes. A spring green that lies closer to yellow-green is warmer than a spring green close to green This parkland scene shows a sampling of spring greens.
Here is a typical glimpse of green leaves at the height of spring. Notice the subtle variations of the spring green leaves. Incorporate subtle differences in value and intensity in your own projects, as you see quite readily in nature. It will enrich your artwork. Here you can see how the subtle variations in the leaf colors add interest and dimensionality.
Green is a beautiful color that is calming and restful. Because of this green’s peaceful nature, its lightened, blackened, and toned hues are the most popular for decorating. The light, softly toned hues of this green are quite restful and make a good backdrop for a calm atmosphere.
The beautiful green leaves in this New Brunswick woodland provide strong color and temperature contrast in this scene.
Blue-green is a luscious refreshing green that is quite restful. This color is very popular in all of its various forms. It evokes a refreshing cooling effect. Notice how different Its visual mood is compared to the warm greens. A softened toned form of this color is sea-foam.
Aqua green is a beautiful green that can be seen in pristine mountain lakes and tropical seas and bays. It is joyful in mood and works well in happy, cheerful designs.
This color is transformed into a subtle wintry aqua green when toned. The trees lining the pathway (below) are an example of this coloring. If you walk into the woods or a garden, you may be able to see a wide variety of toned aqua green trees, shrubs, and perennials.
As you can see, the spectrum of green is delightfully diverse. At least one of these greens should appeal to your senses. As mentioned previously, I believe your choice of a featured green sets the tone for your project. If you want a cool, refreshing effect, your choice of green will be much different than if you want a strikingly vibrant hey-look-at-me effect. Think about the mood you want to promote before you begin selecting your colors. Then choose the featured family of green that will give you the best options to make your vision a reality.