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The Green Gap - Perspectives No. 327

The Green Gap

Perspectives No. 327

Oil Painting - Pine Forest II, 1901, Gustav Klimt
Pine Forest II                            1901                           Gustav Klimt  


   We live in a forest. The trees provide enduring inspiration to us on our daily walks and show up often in our paintings. The lush green of their summer leaves usually proves to be the most difficult subject. So much green! Their skeletal architecture in winter or their showy colors in autumn are easier subjects, but the green of summer always challenges.

   Peter Wohlleben's book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate_Discoveries from a Secret World, examines and explains the most prevalent color in the plant world. He writes that the chlorophyll which helps leaves to process light, converting it, along with carbon dioxide and water, into sugars and cellulose, has what is called a "green gap". It reflects the color green back and does not absorb it. That's why leaves appear green. It is essentially the unusable light (for them) in the color spectrum.

   Wohlleben maintains that it is because of this color gap that the colors of the forest floor are also permeated with a subtle green. Many colors in the color spectrum, including reds and blues, are absorbed long before they reach the ground, but some of what he calls the "trash" color, green, which is not used by the trees, does reach the forest floor. This is what creates the soothing green light we see around us as we walk through a forest.

   The Hidden Life of Trees is a fascinating read for all tree-lovers and most especially for those of us who privileged enough to spend our time with paint and canvas in their midst.




Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
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We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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