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What Green is Green?

by Ellie Jakeman April 19, 2023

What Green is Green?

In this article we look at the colour Green! An amazingly versatile colour that has so many associations to our beautiful planet and the natural world. It also has many connections to food, herbs, plants and fruit; such as mint green, sage green, apple green, lime green and so on. Green is the most popular colour we see in nature due to chlorophyll, the green pigment contained in plants which allow them to absorb light thus making their own nutrition through Photosynthesis (that one lesson we all remember!).

We will list common names (this is not an exhaustive list as there are so many!) given to green shades later on and describe their characteristics.

We will also look at how many pigment greens there are available to purchase in terms of coloured pencils, watercolour paint, acrylic paint, gouache, inks and oil paint and also look at how we can mix or modify our own set of green shades, to either darken, brighten or lighten them if we can't find the right one for your project.


Colours of green: A brief history of the earliest green pigments

Malachite  is a natural mineral, it is a native carbonate of copper and is probably one of the oldest, known, green pigments. It is sometimes known as bremen green, olympian green, or iris green. It was extensively mined at the Great Orme Mines in Britain over 3800 years ago! It is a relatively permanent pigment of varying green shades. It is sensitive to heat and acids and was discovered in Egyptian tomb paintings, and in European paintings around the 15th and 16th centuries. It may still be used in Japan. There are many synthetic alternatives today to use as an alternative.

Verdigris was created by the ancient Greeks, another copper-based pigment, created by exposing copper to acetic acid and scraping off the green crust that formed. The pigment was also used by the Romans, but it was Leonardo da Vinci in his "Treatise on Painting" who strongly advised artists to avoid it as it was unstable when used in oil paint.

Green earth also known by the name Terra Verte or Verona green (due to the large deposits found around Verona) is an olive, green, inorganic, natural, pigment derived from minerals. Green earth pigments were used as a cheaper alternative to the very costly malachite pigment in Europe. Green earth pigments were used widely in Roman frescoes, Egyptian portraits and in Buddhist temples in India.

Viridian Green was created in the 19th century, it is a blue-green synthetic pigment of medium saturation and dark in value. It was used by the artist Paul Cezanne, and the Impressionists Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet.

Emerald Green became commercially available in 1814 and was relatively cheap to make but was only used until 1900. Unfortunately this pigment was highly poisonous and contained arsenic. Before it was eradicated from common use, it had been used in many products such as wallpaper, fabric and toys, leading to many unexplained illnesses and sometimes death!

Paris Green was a similar green color that Monet and Renoir also used in their paintings and some believe this pigment was instrumental in Monet losing his eyesight. This pigment was prohibited in the mid to late 1900s.

Fortunately for the modern painter there are so many safe shades of green available to buy we need not be filled with dread or put ourselves at risk!


Most popular green shades, and theirs common names

Below is a list of many popular green shades, their common name and a brief description of their characteristics. Some of these green shades can be found within the interior and textile and fashion design industries, and many can be found in the fine art, graphic design and craft market, as well as in the digital industries. Knowing the characteristics of various shades of green will help you choose your colour palette. This list is not exhaustive as green shades are in high demand and more shades of green are continually being invented!

  1. Forest green - Rich deep green shade. Warm green and great for painting evergreen trees, holly and Xmas trees. Definitely a festive green.

  2. Jungle green - Jungle green has a few variations of green shade, like deep jungle green, medium jungle green, dark jungle green or tropical rainforest. These green shades are usually deep and rich in colour. More on the blue bias than yellow, especially the darker shade.

  3. Emerald green - Is a very popular colour of green, everyone who has seen the Wonderful Wizard of Oz will identify with the 'Emerald City' and the name 'The Emerald Isle' given to Ireland. This shade of green is very much like the emerald gemstone with a warm bright yellow bias.

  4. Neon green - Neon green is more associated with fluorescent paints, laser beams and psychedelic art work. An extremely bright green colour.

  5. Fern green -Fern green is related in colour to the fern leaf, a dull medium green colour.

  6. Hooker's green -This colour comes in both dark and light shades of green. Great for use in creating forest green foliage. This is quite a rich color green but not as bright as emerald green.

  7. Sage green -Sage green is very similar to moss green,it has an earthy grey-brown bias. Very similar to the herb in colour with its woody stem and grey leaf colour. Mix grey into a green pigment with varying degrees of white pigment to brighten

  8. Mint green -Mint green is another very popular colour. It is a softer and cooler version of lime green but still fresh and striking. This particular shade of green was very popular in kitchens and diners of the 1950's. To create mint green mix lemon yellow paint with a small amount of cerulean blue paint then add titanium white. Add your pigments in small increments, testing how they look on a piece of white paper until you get the right shade of mint green color.

  9. Lime green -Lime green is a refreshingly bright green color.To make this colour just add more yellow paint than green pigment. A ratio of 1:3 would work. This colour is usually associated with wet lichen, post it notes and with the fruit. A colour to use when you want something to stand out!

  10. Moss green and dark moss green - both shades of green err on the grey or brown side. By adding orange to a green color, you can usually attain this shade. Quite a dull shade of green.

  11. Sap green -Sap green looks like a darker but warmer version of olive green in colour. A great colour for painting plants and vegetation and tree canopies. A medium to dark green with a yellow bias.

  12. Viridian green- A very popular pigment. Dark-value, blue undertones, good permanence, richly saturated but when mixed with white will create a cool blue green tint. Semi-transparent.

  13. Avocado green - Warm yellow shade of green. Very much like the avocado fruit; a warm but dullish green.

  14. Jade green or mint greenare very similar shades of green. Jade green is very much like the gemstone of the same name, a medium yellow green colour.

  15. Sea green -Sea green color is great for creating depth in a seascape painting. Using sea green in a seascape painting implies vegetation under the water, seaweed and kelp or phytoplankton/marine algae on the surface.

  16. Turquoise green -Turquoise green has a blue bias and is used extensively for creating calm Ocean scenes and tropical blue skies. Associated with calmness and positivity. You can make many shades of turquoise green just by altering the amount of blue or green to the mix.

  17. Olive green- Olive green is a dullish yellow green shade, but not as vibrant as yellow green. It sometimes appears to have a slight neutral brown tinge. More like the olive fruit and it is also used for creating a camouflage colour.

  18. Yellow green - Yellow green as the name suggests has a yellow bias.By taking a lime green color and adding more yellow pigment will help you achieve this color green.

  19. Spring green -Spring green is more of abrightlight green color. It does have many variations from being quite pale to vivid, all shades have a yellow bias. It reminds us of green shoots, new growth and new unfurling leaves.

  20. Verdigris -Verdigris is the most common name for a pale blue green color resembling the patination colour on the Statue of Liberty. A pale turquoise green colour is very recognizable on weathered copper, brass or bronze plates or when exposed to seawater.

  21. Green earth - Green earth shades of green is a dull greyish green color, with low tinting strength. Originating from an inorganic pigment derived from the minerals celadonite and glauconite. Green earth, also known as Terre Verte natural green and Verona green have been used since prehistoric times.

Green colours: Psychology and meaning

Green is mostly associated with rebirth, growth, health and life and is closely related to the Old English verb growan (to grow) or the middle english word grene (meaning grass and grow).

We associate shades of green with calmness, self help, peacefulness, creativity, nature and fertility. It is the most common colour we see in nature and shades of green can actually make us feel calm or peaceful, or rested. In some cultures the colour green signifies wealth and good luck.

There are more positive attributes than negative attributes regarding the colour Green but it is also associated with physical sickness and emotion; green with envy.

When seeing the color green, it is a colour that we see more easily than others because it has a shorter wavelength, so our eyes do not need to adjust all that much to see it.

Shades of green can be found in schools and hospitals to act as a calming influence.

It is believed that the human eye can perceive more shades of green than any other color because of their shorter wavelengths.


Some frequently asked Q and A's about mixing green colors - Mostly regarding mixing paint colours.

What is the darkest shade of green? 

Answer - Phthalocyanine and hookers green are very dark, deep and intense greens, with a blue bias. Viridian green also has a distinctive blue undertone. oxide of chromium green is also quite a dark green color.

How do you make a lighter green colour? 

Answer - There are several things you can do to lighten a green color. You can add zinc white or titanium white to create a 'pastel green', maybe try a 50/50 ratio or just add a small amount of white for a paler green color. You could also try adding a small amount of lemon yellow and white to lighten a green shade. If you are using watercolour pigments you need only to dilute the pigment with water to create a more translucent green color.

How do you make the colour green brighter

Answer - If you wish to make your green a brighter colour you could add either lemon yellow paint or cadmium yellow paint. Only add a touch of white so it doesn't turn into a pastel green color.

How do you make a green colour darker?

Answer - To create a dark green you would add in very small increments, either, prussian blue paint, purple, burnt umber or a very small amount of mars black, process black or ivory black.

 

How do you make a green colour more dull?

Answer- If you wish to create a dull or muddy green color, you can add shades of its complementary colour in increments. So alizarin crimson or cadmium red or burn sienna. Adding grey will also make your green muddy.

Green art and design products for all your fine art and craft projects


Green inks and Brusho powders. For more ink options press this link.

  1. BRUSHO CRYSTAL COLOURS 15G POTS - Lime green, moss green, leaf green, emerald green, sea green, and olive green.

  2. LIQUITEX ACRYLIC INKS 30ML DROPPER BOTTLES - Phthalocyanine green, hookers green hue permanent, sap green permanent, vivid lime green,mMuted green color, fluorescent green color.

  3. WINSOR & NEWTON DRAWING INKS INDIVIDUAL COLOURS - 14ML BOTTLES- Viridian green color, apple green color, brilliant green color, and emerald green.

  4. DALER-ROWNEY FW PEARLESCENT LIQUID ACRYLIC INKS IND. COLOURS - 29.5ML BOTTLES- Silver moss, macaw green color, and waterfall green color.

  5. PIÑATA ALCOHOL INK - 0.5OZ (14ML) - Lime green, teal green color, and rainforest green colors.

Green acrylic paint various shades of green.

We sell a plethora of acrylic paint, from heavy body, soft body, pouring paints, and high flow acrylics. Below is just a small example of what we stock. To visit more acrylic paint brands press the link here.

  1. STUDIO HEAVY BODY ACRYLIC PAINTS - 200MLS TUBES - Yellow green color, emerald green, sap green, permanent green, and phthalo green color.

  2. GOLDEN HEAVY BODY ACRYLICS - 59ML TUBES - SERIES 3 -Light green (yellow shade), light green (blue shade), light turquoise (phthalo) and teal.

  3. GOLDEN HEAVY BODY ACRYLICS - 59ML TUBES - SERIES 1 -Terre verte hue,Viridian green hue,and light phthalo green.

  4. GOLDEN HEAVY BODY ACRYLICS - 59ML TUBES - SERIES 7 -Green gold, hooker's green, Interference green (fine) and jenkins green.

  5. LIQUITEX BASICS ACRYLIC - 118ML TUBES -Bright aqua green, phthalocyanine green color, hooker's green hue permanent, green deep permanent, light green permanent, light olive green, lime green, brilliant yellow green, green gray.

  6. LIQUITEX HEAVY BODY - 59ML TUBES -Bright Aaqua green, cobalt teal, turquoise deep, cobalt turquoise, cobalt green, phthalocyanine green (blue shade), phthalocyanine green (yellow shade), emerald green, green deep permanent, viridian hue, transparent viridian hue, hooker's green deep, hooker's green hue, sap green permanent, chromium oxide green, light emerald green color, light green, vivid lime green.


Green marker pens

A wide range of pens suitable for artists, manga, comics, fine art, graffiti, product design, architecture and technical drawing including brands such as Posca, Kurecolour, Liquitex, Sharpie, Promarker and Copic. For more marker pens press this link.

  1. COPIC CIAO MARKER TWIN TIPPED MARKERS (E000 - G99)-

  2. UNI POSCA PCF-350 - SOFT BRUSH TIPPED PAINT MARKER

  3. LIQUITEX PROFESSIONAL PAINT MARKERS 2MM FINE CHISEL

  4. WINSOR & NEWTON PROMARKER (A TO L)

  5. MONTANA ACRYLIC LINE 2MM FINE MARKERS

  6. UNI POSCA MARKERS MEDIUM PC-5M

Green oil paints - for more oil paint brands press this link.

  1. MICHAEL HARDING HANDMADE ARTISTS OIL COLOUR - 40ML TUBES 12 various Green pigment shades.

  2. WINSOR & NEWTON ARTISTS' OIL COLOUR 37ML SERIES 4

  3. WINSOR & NEWTON GRIFFIN ALKYD FAST DRYING OIL COLOUR 37ML - SERIES 1

  4. DALER-ROWNEY ARTISTS OIL COLOUR 38ML TUBES - SERIES E

  5. DALER-ROWNEY GEORGIAN OIL COLOUR TUBES - 225ML

  6. WILLIAMSBURG HANDMADE OIL COLOUR 37ML TUBES SERIES 6

Green watercolour paints pans and tubes - for more watercolour brands press this link.

  1. SENNELIER L’AQUARELLE ARTISTS WATERCOLOUR 10ML TUBES

  2. INDIVIDUAL STUDIO QUALITY WATERCOLOUR HALF PANS

  3. WINSOR & NEWTON PROFESSIONAL WATERCOLOUR 5ML TUBES - SERIES 1

  4. INDIVIDUAL STUDIO QUALITY WATERCOLOUR HALF PANS

  5. WINSOR & NEWTON COTMAN WATERCOLOUR HALF PANS

Green pencils for illustration, graphic design, and fine art

Press this link for more brand options.

  1. FABER-CASTELL POLYCHROMOS INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS COLOUR PENCILS (101 TO 246)

  2. DERWENT INKTENSE INDIVIDUAL PENCILS SKU: 0700903

  3. CARAN D'ACHE LUMINANCE 6901® INDIVIDUAL PENCILS

  4. FABER-CASTELL POLYCHROMOS INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS COLOUR PENCILS (247 TO 283)

  5. DERWENT WATERCOLOUR PENCILS INDIVIDUALS

  6. DERWENT COLOURSOFT PENCILS INDIVIDUALS

 

Green spray paints

We stock a large variety of artist spray paint. Montana Gold is one of the more popular and is ideal for graffiti artists. Spray paint art can be done on wood, metal, glass, earthenware or plastic. Montana provides an extensive array of special effects including, metallic spray paint, UV effect, hologram glitter, spider web effect, granite effect, chalk finish effect, fluorescent colours and varnishes.

  1. LIQUITEX SPRAY PAINT 400ML SERIES 1

  2. MONTANA GOLD SPRAY CANS 400ML (G1000 TO G6050)

  3. MONTANA GOLD FLUORESCENT COLOUR CANS 400ML - F6000 Acid Green colors  

Ellie Jakeman
Ellie Jakeman

I have had a strong interest in the visual and creative arts since a very early age. After completing an Art and Design Degree and Post graduate studies I have taught Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Textile design , Fine Art print and Illustration for over 20 years. Before teaching I was a freelance artist and illustrator and decided 4 years ago I would return to freelance and commissioned work. I have created many domestic and commercial murals for hospitals and hospices. I work part time for ARTdiscount as a content creator and product tester.


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