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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Beauty In Bloom

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Last Friday, I taught a four hour zoom class on composition and I used this painting of mine as an example of a symmetrical composition. The two iris are not exact mirror images of each other but they are close enough to be a good example. A symmetrical composition can create a pleasing balance while providing parameters for the artist's self expression. Another thing that we discussed in the workshop is cropping. Here you can see the negative shapes created by the buds and leaves being cropped by the top border. These negative shapes are quite similar in size to the buds and leaves and I separated them with colors and values. Also, the positive shapes are warmer colors and the background shapes are a cool blue gray.


This is a large painting, 40 by 60 inches, and I enjoy working in that size because I can further develop ideas that I worked out in smaller paintings. The big challenge here was to create depth on a flat sheet of watercolor paper. First I overlapped the leaves, buds, and stems with the two white iris and then I darkened the values around them. I really had fun creating the tangled design that weaves its way throughout the composition and ties all the different parts together. Even the darkest leaves have some of the same texture you see in the lighter more colorful shapes. You can also see similar undulating lines in the white and yellow petals of the iris that you see in the buds, leaves and stems. I did this to create an interesting rhythm and movement throughout the composition.


The white iris are unpainted white paper with subtle shades of cerulean blue, cobalt violet and lemon yellow and the yellow petals are lemon yellow, cadmium yellow , yellow ochre and cobalt violet. The buds, stems and lighter leaves are mixtures of cerulean blue, lemon yellow, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and olive green and the darkest leaves were mixed with French ultramarine blue and olive green. Taking the time to study the elements of composition is another way to move your painting skills in the right direction. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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