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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Ancient Images

Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I have been intrigued by the ancient cave paintings in Southern France and Spain ever since I studied them in art school at The Ohio State University. The natural colors, textures and rock formations in the cave walls were used by the Cro-Magnon people to enhance their paintings and give them a three-dimensional quality. They had a limited palette of black, red, and a few earth tones along with the natural colors in the cave walls. Some of the paintings have been carbon dated back to 32,000 years and for me they represent the birth of the art spirit.

I have been working on a series of paintings inspired by these ancient cave images and, at least once a year, I add more images to my collection. I start with hand made paper that contains gold and silver chips, wood particles, heavy textures, and other things like bark pieces and ground up minerals. I developed a process where I start with printer's inks and then continue working with watercolor and finally pastel. Each of these mediums have specific characteristics which have to be considered in relation to the others and the end results are often surprising. Every time I return to the series, I have to practice again getting the three mediums to work together which is a challenging process that I enjoy very much.

The ancient cave paintings often included symbols like dots, hand prints, lines and shapes. Their meanings can only be speculated. In this mixed media painting, I added a row of spots that added to the rhythm of the composition. Over generations the Cro-Magnon people painted right oveer earlier paintings and I used that idea when I placed the bull right over the black caribou. The black in this mixed media painting is a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and the faded background is cerulean blue. The bull and horses are a combination of paint and pastel and the lighter areas of the painting are unpainted paper. My upcoming show on October 21, 2023 will include several of these ancient images. To view the invitation, Click Here. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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