A Favorite Subject
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Ever since I moved to Colorado in 1970, aspen trees have been a favorite subject of mine. I love going into the mountains in all four seasons to paint them and I am always amazed at how beautiful and interesting they are in their different surroundings. In this case, wild flowers were in bloom and the afternoon lighting was filtering through the trees in the most delightful way.
At first glance aspen trees appear white and the more I look at them when I am painting the more I see subtle colors. I am never sure if this is reality or my imagination and my love of color. I do know that if I get the values right I am not limited to only the colors I see or the locations where I see them. In this case, I used light versions of the colors that I knew I would be painting for the wildflowers. If you look closely you can see cobalt violet, cerulean blue, pink mixed with cobalt violet and rose dore, yellow ochre, green, and even tiny bits of lemon yellow. And, of course, some parts of the trees are unpainted white paper and that is also how I handled the white flowers.
It is the darker background colors that make the trees come alive and I used mixtures of olive green, perylene green, and indigo mixed with gray. To finish the background, I added a few darker trees with a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue then used an even darker version of the same mixture for the markings on the trees and their branches. For the tree leaves, I painted olive green some of which was mixed with lemon yellow or cerulean blue and I was careful to leave some areas where the cerulean blue sky could show through.
The wild flowers could have easily taken over the composition so I decided to only suggest them without getting into to much specific detail and painted them with bits of cerulean blue, violet, green, rose dore, burnt sienna, and lemon yellow. The aforementioned white flowers are unpainted white paper with different dots of orange and red for their centers.
The joy I feel when plein air painting subjects like this can't be matched and I constantly remind myself how fortunate I am to be an artist. I am putting together a workshop on painting aspen trees in all four seasons that will come available in early 2023. I am currently gathering and producing the paintings and learning how the workshop will be presented and, yes, this gives me the excuse to paint more aspens in their natural settings. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton