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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Adobe Vignette

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am returning from my annual Taos in Watercolor Workshop and this is the demo that I did on the first day. The workshop was a big success with strong paintings from everyone and I enjoyed every minute. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the artists who took the workshop. The camaraderie, new friendships, fun critiques, and beautiful weather were all fantastic. I was so jazzed up about the workshop that I found myself missing meals and that is saying something when you consider the delicious cuisine in Taos.


This subject is directly across from the Mabel Dodge Luhan House where we headquartered the workshop. The lighting was just what I was looking for with with rich sunlight and rich cast shadows. I wanted to demonstrate a vignette where the painting is an evocative description that fades into its background without definite borders. All the rules of good painting still apply such as the effective use of colors, values, shapes, and edges. I worked really hard on reducing what I saw into simple shapes such as the lilac bush and the trees behind the adobe house. This helps me organize and simplify the composition. I kept preaching all week that if you learn to see your subject in terms of colors, values, shapes, and edges, then you will move along faster as an artist and enjoy painting even more. This is particularly important in plein air painting where you have a limited amount of time.


I also talked a lot about not painting everything that you see but rather making artistic decisions such as leaving something out or moving something slightly to improve the composition. If you look closely you can see my pencil drawing of the tree on the right and how I moved it slightly to the left when I started painting. Now the tree encircles the adobe home and creates the umbrella effect that I wanted. Mother nature is perfect but not always perfect for painting.


For the adobe, I mixed cobalt violet with yellow ochre and, for the cast shadows, I added mineral violet to the mixture. The lilacs are cobalt violet with bits of unpainted white paper and the trees are mixtures of olive green, lemon yellow, and cerulean blue with burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue for the trunks. My next plein air watercolor workshop is in Steamboat Springs, Colorado on July 26, 27, and 28, 2024 and you can find out more information by Clicking Here. Happy Painting! Dennis



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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