A Bustling Cityscape
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Cityscapes present interesting challenges and, with a complicated subject like this, I work from pencil sketches, color studies and photo's. This is 17th Street in downtown Denver on a Sunday afternoon and it is a mixed media painting with watercolor and pastel. These two mediums work well together because they provide different colors and textures and you can paint over watercolor with pastel. That is exactly what I did with some of the lighting in the red brick building on the right and the dark shapes in the lower left corner.
When painting a cityscape, I try to capture the noise, movement, texture, and the hustle and bustle of city life. 17th Street is a oneway so the vehicles are all heading in the same direction and their red tail lights add nice shots of bright color. I use soft pastels and some of the different grays with their thick texture are just the thing for distant buildings. At the end of the street, the buildings are mostly pastel with only a little watercolor. I try to keep at least 75 % of the painting in pure watercolor and the sidewalk, street, traffic, pedestrians, sky, and most of the buildings are watercolor with a few pastel accents.
The white bus with its black tires, surrounding vibrant dark and light colors makes a nice point of interest but there are also other strong effects like the the pedestrians next to the yellow cab surrounded with the traffic lights. The sidewalk and the broken stripe in the street lead your eye right into this area. Along with the street lamps, lights and signs this area of the painting becomes a focal point.
For the sky, I used cerulean blue with a little yellow ochre and the white areas of the buildings are unpainted white paper. The watercolor grays are mixtures of cerulean blue and red as well as burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. The taxi cabs are lemon yellow and the brick building is venetian red and burnt umber. Wandering around downtown provides me with so many painting possibilities and I am looking forward to a snowstorm that will eliminate details and simplify subjects. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton