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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Aspens and Delphiniums

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I just taught a workshop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and this is a painting I did in the local Botanic Gardens. I would like to thank all the artists who took the workshop and the ranchers who were generous enough to allow us to paint on their property. The Yampa and Elk River Valleys were lush and green from all the snow and rain and the gardens were magnificent with beautiful wild flowers.

I had promised to do a painting with aspen trees and the delphiniums were a little further away so I placed them in my painting in front of the aspens. This gave me the rich warm foreground that I wanted leading up to the towering aspens against the cool deep background of the forest. The green leaves in the foreground were first a light wash of olive green. Then I added a darker value of olive and ultramarine blue with the tip of my brush to create the impression of a jumble of leaves and stems. Cobalt violet, cerulean blue, mineral violet, and rose dore were used for the delphiniums and I was careful to leave bits of unpainted white paper to represent sunlight. Spattering with mineral violet, ultramarine blue, and lemon yellow added to the jumble and helped settle the aspen trees into the middle ground.

At first the bark on aspen trees appears white but under closer inspection they contain light shades of gray, yellow ochre, blue and even sometimes green. I like to use cerulean blue, yellow ochre, and cobalt violet and allow them to mix on the paper to create the nuances of the aspens. Olive green was used again for the aspen leaves and, where the sky peaked through, I used cerulean blue. The dark markings on the trees is a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. For the cool background, I used perylene green, ultramarine blue, and olive and added an evergreen tree with raw umber. After scratching in a few branches with my fingernail I darkened one of the aspen trees with a cool gray to move it deeper into the forest.

Arranging my painting according to background, middle ground and foreground, was helpful in deciding what colors and temperatures to use as well as what to leave out and what to include. There is a lot to think about when painting and organizing a landscape into three sections can be very helpful. If you type in my name on Instagram you can see some of the paintings that were done in the workshop. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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