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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I remember my first painting trip to Venice and how dazzled I was with scenes like this. Venice seems to have been built for watercolor painters. The shimmering, ever changing reflections in the canals, bridges, and buildings that show their age provide endless subject matter. Even as the buildings are restored, the workers manage to keep them looking hundreds of years old. The main walkways are crowded with tourists but if you venture down smaller lanes and across bridges you discover quieter scenes like this. Most people only spend a couple days in this enchanting city and, on my first trip, I stayed an entire month and left wishing I could stay longer.

I have painted along this canal many times and because of the ever changing light it always looks different. The cast shadows from the sunlight and the reflections in the canal disturbed by the gondola were my main interests when I painted this. I placed the gondolier to provide a focal point and so that the water would be disturbed by his passage. I did not want mirror reflections of the buildings but rather more broken images and muted colors. This is a large watercolor, 32 x 40, and I remember the drawing seemed to take forever.

Try to imagine the buildings without the cast shadows and you get some idea about how much sunlight and shadow add to a painting. Large areas of the buildings are unpainted white paper along with different grays mixed with cerulean blue, cadmium red and occasional bits of violet. For the colors on the walls, I mixed yellow ochre and cobalt violet and and then lemon yellow with cobalt violet. For their reflections, I used the same mixtures and carefully added green. The different greens complement the red in the gondola and the gondolier's white shirt against the black of the gondola come together to attract the viewers eye. The one point perspective where the buildings and the wall merge into one vanishing point also direct the viewer's eye. Because of the pandemic Venice is not over run with tourists and I have heard that the canals are so clean that fish can be seen swimming in them. I can hardly wait to visit this charming city again and paint its never ending beauty. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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