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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Aspen Nocturne

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am still putting together paintings for my workshop "Painting Aspen Trees In All Four Seasons" and I decided to include a nocturne. I am a great admirer of the night scenes that Frederic Remington painted in watercolor of the American West and I titled this painting "Night Of The Harvest Moon."

Starting with the aspen tree, I placed it off center to the left with the idea that I would counterbalance it with the moon in the upper right. Using a mixture of cerulean blue, cobalt violet and yellow ochre, I was careful to leave some white paper. Because I didn't stir up the colors, but rather allowed them to blend on the paper, you can see each of the colors plus the mixtures they created. I like this technique because of the resulting color identity and transparency. Constantly stirring up the colors when you are mixing results in dull and even muddy hues. The black marks on the tree are a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and the smaller lines and dots are a slightly lighter value.

While painting the dark greens, I was careful to make an interesting edge where it would come up against the deep blue sky. Using olive green and ultramarine blue, I again allowed them to mix on the paper. The yellow is lemon and I toned it down a bit by glazing over with transparent yellow and, by spattering some of the lemon yellow, I was able to create the texture I wanted. Deciding where to include the blue sky was important and I chose two different shapes that blended in and out of the dark greens. I used a deep mixture of cerulean blue and added ultramarine blue for the darker areas.

Rather than trying to paint around the moon, I painted right over it. Then, after the paint was dry, I lifted it out with a damp brush and blotting with a tissue. Finally, I glazed over the moon with a light gray mixed with cerulean blue and a tiny bit of red. The borders played an important part in my composition with the aspen tree going off the top and bottom border, the green shapes spreading out to all four borders and the blue sky entering from the two side borders. As always, planning ahead in watercolor is essential. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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