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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Combining Sketching & Dessert

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I have done several paintings of High Tea at the historic Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver and I always find interesting viewpoints. I love the antique furniture, glass top tables, cut glass lamps, three tier desert trays, white dishes, and happy customers. I enjoy sitting at one of the tables sipping coconut tea, sampling the deserts, putting down ideas in my sketchbook and as long as I am discreet, I can capture reference photo's. It was near the end of high tea and, fortunately for me, some of the dishes hadn't been picked up from the empty tables. This resulted in cast shadows that linked the dishes together and gave me the opportunity to add some unexpected color.

The three ladies were lost in conversation and had no idea they were destined to be part of a painting. This means they were relaxed which makes for better gestures. I deliberately excluded their features, which I thought would be to much detail, and captured their expressions with simple value changes.

Just like in landscapes, this interior has a background, middle ground, and foreground. The distant plant pots, furniture, and framed painting are the background. The three ladies along with their table and dishes plus the furniture close to them make up the middle ground and the foreground is the two front tables with their dishes and three tier desert tray. Placing the focal point in the middle ground is a traditional composition and, in this case, it means the viewer will wander through the painting before settling on the ladies. I like having size differences in the foreground like the big tables and chairs in contrast to the small dishes and being able to see through the desert tray was an added bonus.

The carpet is indigo with gray details and the stuffed furniture is different values of cobalt violet. The cut glass lamps and dishes are mainly unpainted white paper with little bits of cerulean blue and yellow ochre. The glass table tops are a mixture of cobalt violet and yellow ochre and the wood parts of the furniture are burnt sienna and burnt sienna plus ultramarine blue. Now that winter is here in Denver I will be visiting interiors like this one to collect material for studio paintings. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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