It's Not Easy Being Green: A Ceiling Project

Color Therapy

It's Project Month at Apartment Therapy, and what better opportunity to kick myself in the pants and try to finish something I've been working on for a year and a half…

As you may recall, my teensy studio is the locus of great experiment in all manner of decorative painting. This project, a ceiling inspired by Tiepolo, was meant as a practice run for a potential children's room project. It's usually best to figure things out at home before taking them to market.

But those leaves! I just couldn't get the right shade of green. Someone once said--maybe it was Manet or Corot--that Nature is badly lit and too intensely green, though I'm paraphrasing. I don't know why, but it's always been so difficult to depict leaves in a way that is both realistic and aesthetically pleasing. In my first pass, my leaves that were way too yellow, and not even remotely "Italian."

And here's where the experiment gets experimental. A dear friend and colleague suggested using Payne's Grey, of all things, as an undercoat, which is not even green but blue. It's a far cry from the way the Renaissance Italians paint trees with a reddish cast, but that didn't work for me either.

In this final try, I made a green out of colors I love and hate, including Sap Green, Olive Green, Olive Oxide Brown and Payne's Grey. I don't like green unless I love it, and I was never so happy as to paint out those yellow leaves. I swear this is still wet.

(Images: Mark Chamberlain)