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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Autumn on the Trail

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am now living in Centennial, Colorado on the edge of Denver and there is a beautiful walking and bike trail close by. I set up and painted along the trail where this bridge was surrounded by trees in autumn colors and the cast shadows stretched across the ground and the walking path. The sunlight sprinkled through the trees and onto the ground making for an interesting subject. Several of the people on the trail offered to pose if I wanted figures in my painting.

I was painting on cold press Stonehenge watercolor paper nearly upright so that gravity would cause the wet paint to drip and blend colors together. I was reminded of Claude Monet who said painting is just putting bits of color next to other bits of color. This is a simplified explanation but it does relate to direct painting which I love. The light was changing so I worked quickly trying to get each brushstroke the right color, value and color temperature so that I wouldn't have to go back and rework anything. I started with cerulean blue for the sky and then transparent yellow, lemon yellow and a little burnt sienna for the autumn colors. A little spattering gave the impression that I wanted as I moved down to paint the bridge. Here I used burnt sienna and then burnt sienna plus ultramarine blue for the darks. These are both warm colors and along with their darker value they move the bridge forward in front of the autumn colors.

There are four large trees that surround the bridge and lock it into a stable position. Each of these trees is different in shape, color, and value and they show how the terrain dips down under the bridge. There were leaves on the ground and the path so I used spattering and stippling to create texture. If you look carefully you can also see my fingerprints in the foreground. The path is a light gray mixed with cerulean blue and a little red and the cast shadows on the path are blue violet. The cast shadows on the ground repeat the ground color, olive green, in a darker value.

I am often asked if I erase my pencil work and the answer is no. I believe that visible pencil lines are part of the artwork and here you can see where I left them in the painting. I look forward to painting along this trail at different times of the day and in different weather conditions. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

This painting is available for sale and the price is $400. The image is 7x9 inches an it is matted making it 13x15. Contact pendleton studio @


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