Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Directing The Viewer's Eye


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is a small painting I did on a friends ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and it gives me the opportunity to talk about lighting and directing the viewers eye. The reason an artist tries to direct the viewers eye is so the he or she sees the entire painting while slowing down and appreciating different areas. For example, the furrows in the wheat field could go straight back to the trees but in this painting they curve and meander through the foreground in an interesting way that slows you down as they lead you to the middle ground. The line of fence posts does the same as they curve through the foreground, disappear behind the hill and reappear behind the big tree. Notice also that each of the fence posts is a little different as they lean in different directions, some are short and some tall, and they get noticeably smaller and lighter in value as they disappear in the distance. This also slows down the viewers eye.

In the middle ground, the row of trees shows the sunlight with their rim lighting. The top of each tree is a light yellow green, the main part is olive and the closer they get to the ground the darker the green. This gives them thickness while showing the morning sunlight. This same pattern is repeated in the land formation at the base of the biggest tree. You can also see the the sunlight hitting the top edges of that tree. The placement of that tree also slows you down as you move into the middle ground.

Now to the mountain. Even though it is a large horizontal shape, it has ridges and trails that lead you back into the middle ground. Also it is an interesting shape that reaches a high point and then tapers down and eases you back into the painting. Even though the mountain is a deep rich color it is also a cool temperature which pushes it into the background because cool colors recede and warm colors come forward. For the hay field, I used yellow ochre and burnt sienna and the trees are lemon yellow, olive green and ultramarine blue. The fence posts are a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. The mountain was painted with ultramarine blue, cerulean blue and gray mixed with cerulean blue and a little cadmium red. This was painted on a handmade paper with an extreme deco edge and I mounted it on black paper to show off that deco edge. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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