Depth in Greens

painting water, NT australia oasis greens,

Creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface can be challenging for beginners at first, Especially in greens. But with some simple tips and regular practice, it does get easier in just a few weeks!

NT oasis greens
NT oasis greens

In the photographs I’ve taken, they show various aspects of depth in greens. Have a look at each, try to find and see the gradations of light to dark within the green areas. Look at the sharp or soft edged transitions;  look at how subtle the transitions might be.

Colours I would typically rely on to create my greens:  winsor lemon, quinacridone rose,  cobalt genuine,  cerulean, prussian, ultramarine, indanthrone and burnt sienna. I would not need All of these in each painting.  (3 blues,  yellow, burnt sienna – are enough) In 10 Tips for greens  you will find a number of relevant and easy guidelines to help.

For NT oasis greens, if painting in acrylics, I’d think strongly about using glazes to build the depth and luminosity. I may even decide to add a bit of satin medium to my paints as well for the transparency and richness. For the rockery, I might use the moulding paste, as described in watercolour with a twist– but using acrylic paint for glazing.

Though in the photo image the shaded dark greens may appear  black;  they are not.   I must remember to go by my memory, not “the photo”.   The shaded dark green was deep jade at its darkest, but not black. Black will kill the painting by dulling it down, losing its vibrancy and luminosity and richness.       Use the darkest version of the colour in shade…… Not black.

wet into wet background
wet into wet background

In the flower photo, for the background I would more definitely choose a wet into wet technique to create those lovely soft, blurred edges.

Depth can be achieved through sufficiency in: tonal value range, colour temperature gradations  and by using contrast wisely. i.e.  areas of the most texture, the most detail, the sharpest edges …. need to be placed at or very near The Focal Point. Not “willy nilly”  background, middle ground, foreground just because we think we ‘see’ details in those areas too!

Drifting in deep green
Drifting in deep greens

While at the zoo, the whiteness of feather floating in a bed of emerald green with that sunflower yellow leaf drifting out of sight,   caught my eye.   In this case, I liked the flatness of surface.  It was deliberately chosen as an integral part of the design, the composition.  It actually helps to provide the sense of the feather floating on top.

Again the photo creates an appearance of the darkest green being black. I will not paint it black!     But I will create the deepest darkest green possible and use that for the shaded dark green.

This image has a hint of things underneath while many objects carefree…  just drift.  When I paint this, I’ll choose to create layers of glazes, in order to achieve that sensation.  I won’t use a projector, nor a grid, nor be overly concerned to get objects in the same location as in the photo.

In fact – many of those objects would be moved!    Focal point off centre and the yellow leaf not at the perimeter.

Side Note:    With These 3 specific images    (NT, wet in wet flower, drifting in greens)       I’d be interested in hearing or seeing on your blogs or  in my comments section the artworks  that you created using these 3 images  as  “springboards into your imagination.”


Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

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