I recently had a discussion with a woman who was telling me how she just started taking painting classes. She liked a willow tree painting of mine and we began to talk about color. I explained to her how I squeeze out no less than five greens (if I'm painting green leaves, as an example), so I thought I'd share with you my palette I used for Stalwart Tree.
Last year I took a position at the Artists Archives in Cleveland and to get to work, I cut through one of the nation's most historical cemeteries - Lake View Cemetery. Not only is it the final resting place of many famous people, including President Garfield, it is a beautiful garden cemetery with rare flowers and trees. Among those is a myriad of Japanese maples!
I've been painting landscapes for thirty years and find the Japanese maple to be one of the most interesting of all the trees with it's gnarly branches and leaves that hang like clumps of waterfalls. I don't believe there is any other local tree that changes into so many colors as this one - muted orange, chartreuse, olive and bright red. Stalwart Tree represents an early fall view and I knew I would be swirling around from olive to orange, with a halo of gold. I laid out my palette with six greens - phthalo, permanent green light, light turquoise, viridian, green gold and sap. In addition, I put out colors that will be used to modify those greens. For instance, I make a nice olive green using permanent green light and cadmium red light. You can get a nice, murky golden olive by mixing green gold with cadmium orange, and all can be sparked up with diarylide yellow! The result is what looks like a colorfully-unified tree, but up close, full of shots of color throughout!
Pictured: Left, details of a first layer. Center, my palette. Right, finished "Stalwart Tree".