Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
For a holiday like today, we thought we’d celebrate the best way that we know how, by chatting about the color green. So, how does one emphasize the power of green? It’s a color that symbolizes Ireland, money, beer, and leprechauns. We’d like to start by exploring its history and how we, at Overall Murals, use it in its purest form… PAINT.
The history of green and why it ain’t easy being it is long and much like some of our old Irish uncles, not always easy to follow. Now, there are a few legendary tales that can be attributed to why we wear green on Saint Patty’s Day. One is that Saint Patrick was thought to have used green shamrocks to teach people about the holy trinity. Another from Sean O’ Malley, a kid from my 3rd-grade science class who said it was because leprechauns would find me and pinch me if I didn’t wear the lucky color. The most poetic theory is referenced by William Drennen, the co-founder of the Society of United Irishmen in 1795. He referred to Ireland as “the Emerald Isle” in one of his poems describing the country’s vast leafy landscape. The verdant land was considered wealthy because it represented a fertile land ripe with gold.
Fast forward to today — you may not typically see our work inside fine art galleries but our use of the color green out on the exterior canvases of buildings is quite prolific. As artists, we can’t overlook the beauty of green (from lime to olive) without acknowledging how important it is. It is a color that symbolizes hope, and it literally means money in our line of work, within the world of hand painted advertising. We’ve gone ahead and done all the research and sourced our wonderful in-house painters for their knowledge on all things green, so you don’t have to (you’re welcome).
In ancient Egypt, the Egyptians believed that the color symbolized regeneration and rebirth, so they used copper mineral malachite to create the green color and adorn tomb walls. By the same token, ancient Romans utilized the color on mosaics and stained glass, while monks also painted their manuscripts green.
Some of the latest ad campaigns have taken a cue from the Middle Ages, where green clothing stood for wealth and status. Balenciaga and Buchanan Whiskey stand out from the crowd to a large green degree.
On a more practical level, during the Renaissance era, artists found that when painting a portrait and adding an undercoat of green to the pink would give the depth needed to make a face look more like, well, a face. In fact, we still use this method of green for our photorealistic murals to add balance and create a vivid pale flesh tone for murals like AG Jeans and Ray Ban.
Let’s highlight the common variation of cadmium green, which is often used in advertising artwork for clients, who are environmentally friendly, or outdoorsy, and earth-friendly. It’s a bright light tint that stands out against more muted colors, while still providing a fresh look and leaving viewers with a feeling of calmness and liveliness. Tell us, are you feeling more peaceful yet?
What’s so special about cadmium green? Well, it’s a color widely used in the hand painted industry for a reason. Cadmium green was discovered in 1817 and has long been a fixture on painters and graphic artists’ color pallets, typically under the name ‘cadmium yellow’. In fact, today cadmium green is usually a mixture of cadmium yellow and viridian to give it its bright pale green pallor.
It’s best known for its outstanding high power, light fastness, and stability – withstanding fading from temperatures up to 5,432 degrees Fahrenheit. This is perfect for our outdoor murals that are exposed to UV rays 24/7. We use a variety of different faceted cadmium colors to help reduce the faded look so we can provide our clients with long-lasting high-quality colors for their murals all year round.
Right about now, I bet you’re wondering, how do we make and mix cadmium green (or any color for that matter)? Well, it involves a client, a painter or two, and gallons of paint. Once, we have received hard copy art proofs from our client (or print them in-house) Overall Murals’ (OM) painters mount the proofs and protect them with acetate. They then utilize them as a reference for the paint we are about to mix. Next, the painters set up a station, dedicated to mixing all the colors up, something like the below. Also, for ideal results, it’s best if mixing is done under natural light, like outside or under a skylight.
This process involves a combination of concocting varying paint colors to achieve the final one that matches against the client’s artwork, as exact as possible. So, for every green, pink, purple or every shadow and gradient presented in a given artwork, they must go through the paint mixing operation. Each color created will be dabbed onto the proofs for double-checking and where fingers crossed (or with a bit of luck of the Irish), it’s a match! Now for many, this affair could take hours even days to engineer. But for our uber-experienced painters, they have built an impressive ability to understand what colors and chemicals work well together, and can stir up dozens of custom colors in a matter of hours.
Now, for what you’d read in the fine print: mixing oil paints like this is not something one should do lightly. The procedure can be toxic, and the government insists that they only be used by artists and professionals (that’s us!), so internally we take the necessary safety precautions.
When OM’s muralists mix paint and brush it onto our walls, they are always wearing gloves and masks. Our studio ensures there is proper ventilation indoors and we ask that our team avoids eating near the chemicals… or eating the paint at all, cause it definitely doesn’t taste like chicken.
So there you have it! Green, a color tied to history and was once used by Ancient Egyptians, is now swirled in a paint bucket in our Brooklyn-based studio. The power of green still holds true to Saint Patrick’s Day just like we hold true to our own hand paint tradition. When you see one of our murals painted with green, just know we are high up on the wall, painting and cheering for Saint Paddy’s day! Slainte!