Change In The Air
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. On my walk this morning I noticed that some of the leaves in Denver are already turning gold, a sure sign that Autumn is here. My thoughts went to Steamboat Springs and the other mountain towns where the air is crisp and the aspen trees are turning gold. Fall is my favorite time of year in Colorado and this is a painting I did on a friend's ranch last year in Steamboat Springs.
Aspen trees at first glance seem to be all white but, as you look more closely, you see light shades of yellow ochre, warm and cool gray, green and even violet. I enjoy painting different pastel colors on the trunks especially on the ones in the background. Not only are the distant trees smaller, cool colors also help them recede into the distance. When painting in a forest like this, I usually choose one or maybe two trees to be the most important and decide where to place them in the composition. Here you can see the biggest tree is slightly off center to the left and stretches from the bottom border to the top border thus overlapping the foreground, middle ground, and background. Then it was easier to decide how many more trees to include and where to place them. Further depth was created with the lacy yellow gold leaves and branches in the foreground that you can see through and the branch full of leaves that comes in from the left and hangs across the closest tree.
For the background between the trees, I used perylene green, olive green, and mineral violet and it was important to vary the values and let the colors mix on the paper to keep it from looking flat. You can see how the lighter values and soft edges in the upper left corner work well with the darker values in the background. The distant trees are combinations of cerulean blue, Indian red, mineral violet, and yellow ochre. The large aspen tree in the front has gray mixed with cerulean blue and cadmium red, cobalt violet mixed with yellow ochre and cerulean blue mixed with cobalt violet. The dark branches and markings are ultramarine blue mixed with burnt sienna and the red color in the foreground is a mixture of mineral violet and yellow ochre.
I am developing a course on painting aspen trees in all four seasons and this will be one of the paintings. It will be offered through my studio and, when it is completed, you will see it mentioned in a future Sunday email. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton