Summer Greens…

High Meadows - en plein air watercolor landscape painting by Tony ConnerBy June, the landscape is filled out with the rich greens of summer.  It stays that way, with only subtle changes well into September.  This creates two challenges for the artist.

The first is “the green problem”.   Green is known to be a difficult color for artists to employ properly.  The color itself is often associated with negative things – being sick or unhealthy (think “green around the gills”) or evil (think of a witch face – usually portrayed as green).  Worse, it is a difficult color to use, especially in a scene that requires a lot of it. The color can seem visually overwhelming, perhaps because the human eye is especially sensitive to it.

The second is that a good bit of variety is needed to help any painting remain visually interesting. So much of a deep summer landscape is filled with greens that are very similar to each other.

One solution to both problems it to work when the quality of light provides some assistance in both modifying the green colors and in providing some variety in color, temperature and value.

“High Meadows” was painted from a favorite spot at the intersection of Skiparee and Fowler Roads.  The vantage point is up on a high hillside and provides panoramic views to the south and southeast over Berkshire mountains in Massachusetts.   I’ve painted from here many times, but mostly in times of the year with little foliage on the trees.    Here are three more paintings done from a similar place. Little Hill - watercolor en plein air landscape painting by Tony ConnerOn A Morning - plein air watercolor painting by Tony Conner"Changing Sky, Pownal Valley" - original watercolor plein air watercolor painting by Tony Conner

For the summer scene, consciously adding variety in the greens would provide a solution to the two-pronged “green problem” mentioned earlier.

Evening sunlight added warmth in areas being touched by direct light, and coolness in shade and shadow areas.  The large field in the left middle contained a good bit of dryer grasses that added warmth to that area as well.  Including, and in fact, boosting the warm areas and cool areas helped moderate the effect of green while not diminishing the sense of summer and summer greens.





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