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Green, the colour of nature, hope, envy and money

Updated: May 20

Green leaf
Image by Pixabay on

This is the last stop on my journey on the colour wheel and it will be all about green, the colour of hope, nature and wealth or money.

The colour green has a wavelength between 520 and 565 nanometres and can be both a secondary colour from the combination of yellow with blue or cyan in the CMY(K) and RYB colour mixing systems and a primary colour (together with blue and red) in the RGB colour mixing system.

As always I will talk about the origin of the colour name, its meaning in psychology, the pigments and the most important shades of green.

Where does the colour name "Green" come from?

The term “green” derives in most Germanic languages from a word meaning “grass” or “grow”. In romance languages such as Italian or French the original word is the Latin word “viridis” from which they derived the terms “verde” and “vert”.

What does the colour green mean in psychology?

Green is usually associated to nature, life, health, wealth and knowledge. As the colour coming from the union of yellow and blue, it is a balanced colour which contains energy mitigated by the calmness of blue.

It is a colour strictly connected to the nature and its awakening after the cold season. Following this perspective and all the positive feelings originated from expectations for the upcoming seasons, green became the colour of hope.

Green can also have a negative meaning if connected to greed, jealousy and everything considered conventional. Read more.

What are the most important green pigments?

Green pigments, indicated with the letters PG in the Color of Art Pigment Database, are usually produced using raw materials containing copper. Today green pigments are produced in synthetic form and the most important are:

  • Phthalocyanine Green (PG7) (Blue Shade). It is a synthetic pigment containing chlorine atoms derived from Phthalo Blue pigment (PB15) and the standard used for green acrylics.

  • Phthalocyanine Green (PG36) (Yellow Shade). Similar to the pigment PG7 It is a synthetic pigment containing chlorine atoms derived from Phthalo Blue pigment (PB15) with a small part of bromine to get the yellow shade.

  • Verdigris (PG20), a copper based pigment whose name comes from the colour of the patina resulting on the copper, bronze, and brass during their aging process. It is also considered to be a cyan/turquoise shade.

  • Malachite (PG39), a stone whose powder, mixed with eggs, was used by Cleopatra in the Ancient Egypt to colour her eyelids;

  • Green Earth (PG23), a natural pigment used as a malachite substitute;

  • Viridian (PG18), a dark blue-green pigment created in 19th century, whose name comes from the Latin word meaning Green.

  • Emerald Green (PG21) (also called Paris Green or Scheele Green), is a synthetic and highly toxic pigment due to arsenic.

  • Chrome Green (PG17)

What are the most common shades of green?

Green colours can vary from more bluish tones (blue-green/turquoises) to more yellowish (yellow-green) or earthly ones (earth green).


Yellow-green is a colour made of 50% green and 50% yellow. It is a tertiary colour and its complementary is red-violet. Sometimes it is called lime green or chartreuse.


The colour “Chartreuse” owes its name to the French liqueur, produced by monks in the French Chartrusian Mountains, called “green chartreuse”. The colour chartreuse symbolizes acceptance, distinction, cheerfulness, imagination.


Lime is another yellow-green shade, whose name derives from the citrus fruit called the same way. Sometimes it also called yellow-green, lemon-lime (a fluorescent chartreuse tone), lime green, or bitter lime. Other variations of it are Bright lime, Arctic-lime, Peridot, Volt, Electric lime and French lime.

Phthalo Green (Blue Shade PG7 and Yellow Shade PG36)

Phthalo Green is the standard green in art supplies. It is a synthetic organic pigment from the family of phthalocyanine pigments which was introduced in 1938 as a substitute to the more poisonous green pigments Emerald Green. Read more.

Viridian Green (PG18)

Viridian green (Hydrated chromium oxide) is a non-toxic, intense green pigment with a bluish bias. The name comes from the Latin word “viridis” meaning green, blooming, vigorous. It was first manufactured in 1838 by the Frenchmen Pannetier and his assistant Binet but, due to high production costs, it started to be used regularly from 1858, when Guignet patented a cheaper production method. Read more.

Emerald Green (PG21)

Emerald Green, also known under the names Schweinfurt Green, Paris Green and Veronese Green, was one of the alternative to viridian green but, due to its arsenic content, one of the most dangerous and deadly pigments used in art.

It has been produced since 1814 and the main ingredients were heated copper Verdigris, vinegar, white arsenic, linseed oil. Then, towards the end of the 19th century, the deadly consequences due to the use of this pigment came to light. The original pigment was banned at the end of the 19th century and nowadays it has been substituted by a mixture of phthalo green and other pigments. Read more.

Chromium Oxide Green (PG17)

Chromium Oxide Green (or Chrome Green) is the most stable green pigment. It is an inorganic pigment, obtainable from the mineral Eskolaite, that has been produced synthetically since 1838. It is very appreciated by artists because it can create a wonderful and wide range of greens. Read more.

Sap Green

Sap green (sometimes Viridian), a yellow-green colour, is a lake pigment and obtained originally from the juice of unripe berries from the buckthorn, (Rhamnus) plant. Reduced to a heavy syrup and sold in pig bladders rather than as a dry pigment, it was very appreciated by watercolour artists in the 17th and 18th century. Today it is produced synthetically and can be found also in other paint types. Read more.

Cobalt Green (PG19)

Cobalt Green, a zinc oxide based pigment, is a semi-transparent, bright, bluish-green, with a low tinting strength, discovered by the Swedish chemist Sven Rinman in 1780. It started to be widely used after 1860, when the main ingredient, zinc, became more available. Cobalt Green is often considered a third green alternative to phthalo green and chrome oxide green. Read more.

Hooker’s Green

Hoooker’s green is a green resulting from the mixture of gamboge, a yellow made from the sap of a deciduous tree, and Prussian blue. It is a particular green, with brownish to greyish undertones, but at the same time it is a rich green similar to the one of apple leaves. The colour was named after the botanical illustrator William Hooker, who discovered the colour during his studies of the flora and fauna of London and its suburbs. Read more.

Final words.

This was my last stop on our journey to discover the color wheel. As we have seen, green is a multi-faceted colour, with wonderful shades, that behind a peaceful, spiritual and nature connected soul hides a darker (sometimes deathly) past. Is green your favourite colour?

Thank you for reading. If you like the post, leave a like, a comment and don't forget to follow my blog, Instagram and Threads and share the content on your social media.

In my next posts I will have a look at the achromatic colours white, grey and black.

Until then I hope you will have a great creative day!



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