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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

A Study in Edges

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I recently purchased a Hahnemuhle sketchbook with tan colored toned paper and, for my first painting, I decided to copy this watercolor by Trevor Chamberlain. It is my favorite painting of his of Venice and I was anxious to see how the toned paper affected the watercolors. When used properly, toned paper can give an over all unity much like a toned canvas for oil painting. If I had painted a colored watercolor wash on white paper, it would mix with any colors I painted on top while the toned paper does not. I am delighted with the rich colors, hard and soft edges, and luminosity as well as the underlying tone that ties the painting together.


In his book, Trevor Chamberlain talks about how, when painting in Venice, he likes to wander off the beaten paths full of tourists and find quiet scenes like this - that is exactly what I enjoyed on my painting trips to that charming city. The hard, soft, and blurred watercolor edges in this painting combine to give a feeling of tranquility to a quiet afternoon while, at the same time, guiding the viewer's eye around the painting. See how the hard edges on the boats on the right side of the canal, surrounded by soft edges, are clearly the focal point.


Soft and blurred edges on the distant building in shadow behind the bridge make that area seem further away. Soft edges on the water reflections look wet while the walls and windows, with a combination of hard and soft edges, appear solid and upright. The balcony, with its hard edges, juts out from the windows and the red bridge connects the two sides of the canal with a combination of hard and soft edges. If the bridge was all hard edges, it would not settle nicely into the middle ground.


The walls on the left and right were painted with yellow ochre, cobalt violet and mineral violet and the dark windows are a combination of burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue. Indian red and mineral violet were used for the bridge and the boats on the left are a combination of cerulean blue, French ultramarine blue and black mixed with burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue. The reflections in the water are the same colors used in the rest of the painting with slight variations in value. I am offering a one day online workshop on edges Friday, February, 23 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and to find out more information Click Here. Join me and learn the importance of different edges and how they can make or break a painting. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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