Watercolor Techniques and Mixing Desert Greens

In the month of February, the Fine Arts Guild sponsored two classes. Melanie Douglas taught Watercolor Techniques to a class consisting of mostly new members. Each year Melanie excites new members with her enthusiasm about watercolor and encourages them to paint with her when she is monitoring. Sometimes she converts a member from another medium like colored pencils or acrylics to dabble in watercolors also. Melanie is versatile in both watercolor and acrylic painting.

Later in the month, Melanie and two other versatile painters, Paula Lambert and Nancy Friedman, taught a class on Mixing Desert Greens. The colors of our Sonoran Desert plants range from the palest blue greens into purples, yellow and oranges. A little rain can change the colors overnight in our desert. Other things which can affect the colors of plants are sunlight, dry or wet plants and reflections from the sky or red earth.

Everyone in the Mixing Desert Greens class received a prickly pear cactus pad, a brittle bush leaf and another leaf of their choice to which they needed to mix and match a green. One can’t purchase a tube of prickly pear or brittle bush green from an art store. Therefore, their next challenge was to make a mixing chart of all their yellows and blues to make green. From their mixing chart, one was to pick out two-three greens which looked closest to the color of their prickly pear pad. With those picked mixed greens and any purchased greens they might have, they were to then make charts of tints, shades and tones of each color. The paint “formula,” a paint sample and the leaf or picture of the leaf/pad and name of plant were then taped into their sketchbook for future reference when either painting plein air or from a photograph.