Introducing Watercolor to the Novice
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. You never know where opportunities will show up. In the arts, music, writing, painting, etc. are often intertwined. I was contacted by the Jane Austin Society of North America to do two watercolor workshops at their annual meeting. It will be held at a resort hotel here in the Denver area and the participants will be arriving from all over the U. S. For subject matter, I wanted something symbolic of Colorado so I chose aspen trees in autumn colors. The workshops are 90 minutes each and most of the people will be working in watercolor for the first time. It will be my job to walk them through the painting step by step and there will be a camera set up to project what I am painting.
They want a larger image to display so I did this painting. We will be working on watercolor paper 9x12 as we produce a smaller and less complicated version and here are the steps I will use. First, I will have them draw three aspen trees including the characteristic black markings. Next, I will demonstrate painting the three aspen trunks leaving plenty of white paper while adding the dark markings. When that is dry, I will have them paint everything but the trees with yellow and yellow ochre. Finally I will demonstrate how to introduce the branches, twigs and leaves with other colors. At this point I will be moving among the students helping them with these finishing touches.
I actually used this process for the painting above so I know it works and it will be my job to get it to work for them. In this painting, I used light values of yellow ochre, cobalt violet, and cerulean blue for the aspens. I made sure to leave unpainted white paper for the left sides of the trunks to show the effect of sunlight on the trunks. For the dark markings, I mixed burnt sienna with ultramarine blue and very little water. In an attempt to keep it simple, I did not include the sky or any other trees like pines. Burnt sienna was used by itself, along with being mixed with yellow, for some of the darker colors in the details surrounding the aspen trees. Twigs and branches were painted with the mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and I did spattering with burnt sienna, Indian red and cadmium yellow. I plan on rehearsing this process with a few friends who are not artists to work through the steps and refine my demonstrating and dialogue. I use this process in Zoom classes so I know it works. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton