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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Artistic Decisions

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This painting was done in my most recent weekend workshop at Denver Botanic Gardens and it represents something I want to discuss which I refer to as "artistic decisions" - those subtle and not so subtle changes that the artist makes while painting. Some are conscious and some are subconscious but, either way, they result in the artist's particular style. Choosing to leave out something that they see or adding something that they don't see is one example. Another example is moving something to make a more interesting composition. More possibilities are changing colors, values, shapes, edges, color temperature, color intensity, and the list goes on and on. These changes can move an artist's work from painting to an actual work of art. One extreme example is when Pablo Picasso and George Braque painted objects from different view points in the same painting resulting in Cubism.

In the case of this painting, I rearranged some of the flowers to get an impression of the garden rather that an exact photographic image. My imediate interest was the red flower (the real one is not visable in this photo) and how it was surrounded with the different green leaves so that is where I started painting. Next I added the rest of the flowers, some exactly where I saw them and others wherever I wanted them. Trying to represent a section of the garden on a flat piece of 7x10 inch paper is a challenge and giving myself permission to rearrange and change what I see allows me to better express myself and capture my impression of the gardens. Think about this, you can put 10 artists in front of the same subject and the results will be 10 completely different paintings. For me, this is one of the things that makes painting exciting.

For the red plant, I used cadmium red, alizarin crimson, indian red and mineral violet. The leaves are mixtures of lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, olive green, and perylene green. The yellow flowers are transparent yellow, cobalt violet, and lemon yellow. The flowers in the lower left corner are cobalt violet plus rose dore and the tall blue flowers are cerulean blue and ultramarine blue. One of my favorite artists, Charles Reid, authored a book titled "Painting What You Would Like To See" and I often think about what I learned from that book when I am painting. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

I have one more weekend workshop scheduled for Denver Botanic Gardens and the dates are August 19, 20, & 21. You can sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 days so, if you are interested, send me an email to


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