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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

High Desert Retreat

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Every year in May I teach a Watercolor Workshop in Taos, New Mexico and this is one of the private hacienda's where we have permission to paint. This is actually a painting in my Hahnemuhle sketchbook which is 7 x 9 inches. I was attracted to this corner of the patio because of all the different things growing there - cottonwood trees, yellow tulips, and the big chamisa bush. Also, behind the cottonwood trees on the edge of the property you can see a coyote fence which is so characteristic of Taos. My sketchbook is perfect for plein air painting because of the size and the fact that I can sit down or stand anywhere and get to painting without much setting up. This hacienda was once the home of the early Taos artist Victor Higgins and I am an unabashed fan of the paintings he did of Taos in oils and watercolor.


Taos has grown over time and yet it still has that old world charm which has attracted artists for over one hundred years. The crisp air and high desert sunlight are legendary and every afternoon clouds appear over the mountains in the most delightful way. My main interest was capturing the light and shadow in this handsome location so I concentrated on the dark values in shadow and the colorful light values in the sunlight. You can see where dark shadows became silhouettes against the open air creating the strong contrast in value that I wanted. I often move things slightly or leave some things out but, in this case, I didn't move or change anything because the setting was perfect.


For the cottonwood trees I mixed French ultramarine blue with burnt sienna and olive green, cerulean blue and lemon yellow were used for the leaves. The adobe is a mixture of cobalt violet, yellow ochre and burnt sienna. The painted adobe wall is gray mixed with cerulean blue plus cadmium red and the lower part is Indian red and mineral violet. The flowers are lemon yellow and the chamisa bush was painted with olive green, French ultramarine blue, lemon yellow and perylene green. In just a few weeks I will be heading for Taos to dine in the fine restaurants and paint in the magnificent high desert sunlight. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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