Green Paintings: An Artist’s Perspective

Judith Godwin Abstraction
Judith Godwin. Abstraction. 1954

When I recognize an emerging form, I respond intuitively by evolving complimentary sub-forms in colors and applications which feel supportive and foster development.

Judith Godwin via Artsy

Looking at all the wonderful paintings at Basel Miami last week, I noticed a pattern. I was drawn to green art. Not eco-friendly or environmental art (although I do love these and can’t wait to go visit the new ones at Pinecrest Gardens), I am talking about paintings that were dominated by the color, green.

Into the woods painting
Kristen Beaulieu. Into the Woods. 2019

Green is said to symbolize envy, disgust, stewardship, growth, and healing, so perhaps it’s of the moment. At any rate, I was slightly relieved and hopeful that perhaps I was ready to move on from my orange obsession (having recently painted about a dozen paintings with generous amounts of cadmium orange, and not be too pleased with the results, except for this one).

In this post, my plan is to look at several new or newish paintings that feature green and consider the artist’s use of green in each one.

First, Le Guo’s Multichrome-Racing Green from 2015. This is a classic analogous palette of green, purple and blue. In nature, you can find this combination in a peacock feather. I suppose it might symbolize pride and pomp. For me, however, in spite of the reference to a leaf or a feather here, the color combo in Multichrome-Racing Green connotes the world of high tech…fascinating and near-magical but also pervasive, intrusive and even dizzying at times.

Painting by LeGuo
Le Guo. Multichrome-Racing Green. 2015

In Abstraction 1954 (above), Judith Godwin uses similar hues but grounds them in neutral shades of brown and cream, and the feeling is more grounded. I read this painting as an abstraction of a natural landscape, perhaps woods, lakes, mountains, and snow.

Weiske Wester’s Oysters and Lemon #2 also uses green to abstract the organic shape of a lemon. Like Godwin, Weiske grounds the green in shades of cream and brown. But instead of bringing along green’s friends blue and purple, Weiske pairs green with its complement, pink. This creates a painting that looks sensual and yummy to my eye.

Wieske Wester
Weiske Wester. Oysters and Lemon #2. 2019

In Burn Barrel, Matthew Kirk uses some of the same hues but to very different effect, adding light and medium blues. In this piece, I see a worried face of a downtrodden soul and the mix of soft colors actually feels loud, like clattering dishes.

Matthew Kirk's Burn Barrel
Matthew Kirk. Burn Barrel. 2019

By contrast, in Waiting to Be Noticed, Gus Fink uses the same green/pink/blue/purple color combo to create a quieter world that is uneasy, a bit repulsive, and very funny. I mean both funny “ha-ha” and as in “your mother dresses you funny.”

Green and Blue
Gus Fink. Waiting to be Noticed. 2019

What else can be done in the color green? Do you know any artists who have created a different feeling or connotation with these analogous or complementary palettes?

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