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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Van Gogh's Favorite Color

Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh's favorite color was yellow? Because watercolors are often painted from light to dark, yellow is often the first color the artist starts with. Yellow is a lively color and it can be warm or cool. For example, lemon yellow is cool and cadmium yellow is warm. Other yellows that I have on my palette are transparent yellow, and yellow ochre. I often think about Vincent when I am painting in Botanic Gardens and how much he loved painting flowers. In this painting, I did start with the yellow flowers and, because they were the same color and the same size, I had to figure out ways to make each one a little different. I overlapped some of them, altered the sizes a little and surrounded each one with different colors and different values. In a small plein air painting of flowers like this, I enjoy using rich colors and strong values throughout the painting to capture an impression of the garden rather than a literal copy of what I see. The complement of yellow is violet and I used cobalt violet and mineral violet in different places. Complementary colors always work well together and create harmony in a work of art. If you look carefully, you can see that I drew my own border with a pencil rather than use the borders of the watercolor paper. When I choose to do this, it gives me a sense of freedom where I am in charge rather than the paper manufacturer. As I worked through this painting, I enjoyed giving each flower its own personality and suggesting other flowers with simple bits of color. This coming weekend July 12, 13 & 14 is my workshop in Denver Botanic Gardens and there is still room for a couple more people so, if you are interested, send me an email to Come and join me in the gardens and we can talk about Vincent while we paint the glorious colors that the gardens present in abundance. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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