Along Route 66
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. In late fall this year I am teaching an online Zoom class at the Art Students League of Denver titled "Painting Route 66 In Watercolor." This historic old route across the U.S. is famous for its cafes, nostalgic motels, unusual statues, restaurants, diners and shops that take visitors back in time to a bygone era. This is a painting I did of the famous Betty Boop statue in one of the diners on Route 66. She was an animated cartoon character inspired by a black jazz singer in Harlem and created by Max Fleischer in 1930. The character of the jazz age flapper was the first and most famous sex symbol in animation. The production Code of 1934 imposed guidelines on the Motion Picture Industry and the character Betty Boop was banned because of her use of sexual innuendos. This only increased her popularity resulting in collectables of her becoming very popular and today she remains an iconic character from the past.
Painting this life size statue in its nostalgic environment was a fun challenge and it brought back memories of cartoons and comic strips and I can see why her skin tight outfit must have seemed risque at the time. I used the same mixture for her skin tones that I use when painting live models which is a mixture of yellow ochre, cadmium red and a fair amount of water. The different blacks, including her hair, eyes, and checkered floor are a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. Her outfit is cadmium red with unpainted white paper for highlights. The booths are yellow ochre and burnt sienna and the gray in the background is a mixture of cerulean blue, cobalt violet and yellow ochre.
As with all figure painting, the gesture is very important and I made sure to capture her provocative stance with her hips cast to one side. Her oversized head defines her as a cartoon character and her expression exemplifies the innocent sexuality that was her trademark. How could I know that all those hours painting live models would lead me to painting a cartoon character. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton