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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Impressions of 17th Street

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is a cityscape I painted of 17th Street in downtown Denver inspired by the watercolors of John Marin. His were of Manhattan and often a little more abstract. I like the way he talked about buildings leaning against each other creating a jumble of shapes. In my painting, it is difficult to understand which are actually buildings and which are reflections on glass buildings thus creating a jumble of my own. I also deliberately painted things out of proportion to create the effect I wanted. For example, the buildings seem to loom over the traffic as if the vehicles are driving into a deep canyon. Having the tall buildings cropped by the top border gives the illusion that they could be much higher and this adds to the feeling of the city being overwhelming.


My palette is very subtle until you get to the area where the trees and traffic slice across the low middle ground. Here I juxtaposed bright rich colors against the muted colors of the buildings. Using values and colors this way allows the area of the traffic to be the focal point in spite of its small size and location. The dark lines of the utility poles and street lamps lead the viewers eye into this area of rich colors and dramatic value changes.


I enjoy allowing my mind the liberty of changing shapes, proportions, colors and values to create my own impression of a familiar scene. Working in my studio where I couldn't see the buildings made it easier to ad lib the contorted shapes with windows in and out of alignment. Also, if you look in the lower left corner, you can see where I decided to start to surround the focal point with dark abstract shapes.


The buildings are composed mostly of different grays mixed with with cerulean blue, red, burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue. The taxi cabs are lemon yellow and the trees are olive green mixed with cerulean blue and lemon yellow. I don't have black on my palette and the dark poles are a mixture of burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue with lots of paint and very little water. The same colors from the buildings were used for the street.


Starting Tuesday, March 5th, I am teaching a In-Person class at the Art Students League of Denver titled, "Using An Accent Color in Watercolor Painting," where we will explore many of these same ideas. To find out more about the class Click Here. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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