Aspen Colors

August 1, 2020

I just returned from Steamboat Springs where I taught a plein air workshop.  Today we painted in the Aspen trees and I haven't downloaded any of my paintings so I decided to talk about this one that I did on a previous painting trip in Steamboat Springs.  The autumn colors were changing and the sunlight coming through the aspens was a beautiful thing to see.  Because the aspen trunks are mostly white I used different colors to make painting more challenging and more interesting.  Yellow ochre, cobalt violet, cerulean blue, and different grays, found their way into these trees.  If I wanted aspens to appear in the background I made them smaller and used the cooler colors cerulean blue, and blue gray. 

 

Representing a glimpse of mother nature on a small piece of watercolor paper is daunting and introducing a few colors that I don't really see helps make this possible.  The evergreen tree behind the aspens on the left added some deep colors and a cool accent among all the warm colors.  For the deep colors between the trees I used perylene green, mineral violet, olive green and ultramarine blue.  The foreground is transparent yellow, rose dore, yellow ocher, and orange with a few green accents.  If you look carefully you can see where I spattered paint, left visible brush strokes, and allowed some of the wet paint to mix right on the watercolor paper.  These are some of the techniques I use to create a loose and spontaneous looking painting.

 

Placing the paint right where I want it with confident brush strokes that are the right value and color is a constant challenge.  It doesn't always work but when it does I am happy with the results.  These beautiful summer days won't last forever so take your paints outside and capture your unique impressions of nature.  Happy Painting!  Dennis Pendleton

 

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