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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Anticipating Spring

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I was in Steamboat Springs, Colorado two weeks ago and I wanted to get painting material before all the snow melted. I stayed on a friend's ranch and this scene is just up the hill from their cabin. This is part of a series I am doing of aspen trees in Steamboat Springs in the four seasons. In September I was there to paint the Fall colors and I will return this Spring and Summer to complete the series.

I walked out at different times of the day so I could study the light and cast shadows. The rhythm created by the cast shadows moving across the snow was my inspiration for this painting. In reality, there were even more cast shadows but I thought these were just enough to direct the viewers eye the way I wanted. I placed the horizon line above center so that there was more foreground to show off the snow and cast shadows. The fence posts also lead the viewers eye into the painting as they travel through the aspen trees back to the horizon line.

I learned from painting with my mentor, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, that snow is not pure white because it reflects all the colors around it so I used subtle tones of cerulean blue, cobalt violet and rose dore' to keep the snow from looking flat. Values, how light or dark something is, create the foundation of painting and the light values in the snow were really important as I painted the darker values of the same colors for the cast shadows. The trees in the background were showing off their Spring colors and I used combinations of burnt sienna, yellow ocher and violet to create a backdrop for the aspens. I am looking forward to a horseback ride this Spring in the aspen forest where I will be able to paint and gather material for the next part of this series. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

This painting is 9 & 1/4 by 6 & 3/4 inches and 15 x 13 inches matted. The price is $400. Contact


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