Green Color in Art: Creation a Masterpiece!

green in art

I want to tell you a prophecy: If you are going to draw a picture and you have no idea about it, you will probably use blue to find the idea and then green. This is due to the widespread use of these colors. But today I’m just going to talk to you about the effect of green color.

To know anything, one must look at its history. Because we know that everything has a story, even if it is a color!

In the following, we will examine the history of green color, its psychological meaning and examples of it in paintings. Let’s see:

History of green color in painting

The ancient Egyptians considered green a symbol of rebirth. So they were trying to get the green color from the mineral copper malachite and call it green malachite. But over time, the green designs drawn by this malachite turned black. It also cost a lot.

malachite green in Nativity of Pietro Perugino (1503)
Nativity – Pietro Perugino (1503) — The shirt of a person wearing a red cape is malachite color

In addition, the ancient Romans soaked copper plates in wine and exposed them to the air to use green in their murals. The result was an oxide that was a green pigment called verdigris.

Verdigris green color obtained on copper surfaces
Green color obtained on copper surfaces

Later in the Middle Ages, people were able to produce green from other natural materials. However, these green pigments did not last long. Moreover, the color of the clothes determined the social status of the people. For example, wearing green clothes has been the monopoly of bankers, nobles and businessmen.

The green dress worn by this girl shows the high degree of her family in The Arnolfini Portrait of Jan Van Eyck (1434)
The Arnolfini Portrait – Jan Van Eyck (1434) — The green dress worn by this girl shows the high degree of her family

Renaissance painters painted a layer of green under the pink of the face to make people’s faces more natural and realistic in their paintings. However, over time, the pink color faded and the underlying green prevailed. So it made the face look sick and gloomy in the painting.

For more informaton about Green Color, come here!

he skin of the Mona Lisa is painted with a layer of green underneath in Mona Lisa of Leonardo Da Vinci (1503)
Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci (1503) — The skin of the Mona Lisa is painted with a layer of green underneath

The meaning of green color in art

The color green in everyone’s mind is reminiscent of nature and spring. Green is a secondary color that is obtained from a combination of blue and yellow. So it is natural to have yellow energy and blue calm. The symbolic meaning of green can be the power of will and confidence, self-confidence, hope, growth, progress, purity, youth, freshness, stability and restart. Finally, one of the pleasant and widely used colors of color wheel is green.

Green is the most soothing color. This color has no wave reflections containing freshness, suffering or fear and does not move in any direction, but is calm, still and satisfied with itself. But if yellow is added to it, it comes to life.

painting of a lush landscape with trees and green stormy skies of Pol Ledent
Oil painting by Pol Ledent

Different types of green color shades in art

Well, it is natural that in world famous paintings, different shades of green have been used. In the following, we will talk about the different shades of famous paintings and the story of their emergence. 

Let’s understand the life story of each of them:

Scheele’s Green in art

In 1775, a Swedish chemist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele obtained a green dye from the chemical arsenite, called scheele’s green. This chemical was toxic, so the dye obtained from it was also toxic. Gradually, by the end of the 19th century, this new green color became very popular among the people and was even able to replace the old green colors. But at the cost of losing human lives?!

Scheele's green in Embroidery Woman of Georg Friedrich Kersting (1812)
Embroidery Woman – Georg Friedrich Kersting (1812)

Paris green in art

Then, at the end of the 19th century, French Impressionists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Claude Monet replaced another green pigment that was as toxic as Scheele’s green. Because the creators of this green pigment were French, they named it Paris green. Still no one paid attention to the toxicity of this color?!  

Maybe Monet’s blindness and Cézanne’s diabetes were due to the use of this green color in their paintings! Some believe that Napoleon Bonaparte’s death in 1821 was also due to the green painting of the walls of his room with Paris green.

the painting of Napoleon Bonaparte in paris green of Lily Nishita
Painting by Lily Nishita

Emerald green color in art

Finally, in 1808, some obtained a green color from copper-acetoarsenite to improve the color of scheele’s green. It was known in the UK as Emerald green, but it was also poisonous. However, no attention was paid to its toxicity and it was also used commercially.

emerald green in Woman in a Green dress of Claude Monet (1866)
Woman in a Green dress – Claude Monet (1866)

Cobalt green in art

Green cobalt was invented in 1780 by Sven Rinmann, a Swedish chemist. In fact, you could never find this color in the color palette of all the painters of that time for two reasons: First, it was very expensive. The second did not have high staining power. However, there were painters who used this color in their paintings.

Cobalt green in the female hat riibbon painted by  Jonathan Green
Oil painting by Jonathan Green

Green earth in art

In the Middle Ages, Italian painters tended to use natural green pigments. For this reason, they used green soils and plant extracts to paint their paintings.

Green earth in The Annunciation of Duccio Di Buoninsegna (1311)
The Annunciation – Duccio Di Buoninsegna (1311) — Both people’s face is green earth

Viridian green in art

In fact, the inventor of this pigment is Guignet of Paris, who obtained it in 1859 by oxidizing chromium. This color became very popular because it had a high durability, was not expensive and most importantly was not toxic. So it could be a good replacement for all the previous green pigments. Maybe that’s why Van Gogh uses this color a lot.

Viridian green in Cafe Terrace at Night of Vincent Van Gogh (1888)
Cafe Terrace at Night – Vincent Van Gogh (1888)

Greenery in art

The new greenery shade is just as popular as other shades and green pigments. This popularity is probably due to the freshness that this color brings. That is why Pantone dedicated the color of 2017 to this shade of green.

greenery in Village Green Soccer of Artist Unknown
Village Green Soccer – Artist Unknown

The last word

You see? It seems that in the past, it did not matter what the green color was supposed to be. Toxic or not? There just has to be! Because the color green is undeniably important in art.

Finally, green is always the color of the environment. But green can be used in painting to show emotions such as fear, lies and jealousy. What is important is what message do you have to convey to others through art?

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It's Nazanin. For me who loves the rainbow after the rain. What could be more beautiful than writing about colors ?! Well, I'm here now, in Dopely, to share my writings about colors with you and take you with me to the world of colors!

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