Learning From A Master
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. In my Watercolor Salon we had an assignment of painting a cityscape which included what we learned from studying John Marin's paintings. His work included a very loose style, flecks of unpainted white paper, energetic brush work. visible pencil lines, abstract compositions, buildings that leaned against each other to create a sense of rhythm, and brilliant colors. The idea was not to continue painting like John Marin but rather to see what we could learn from his work to improve our own paintings.
This painting of mine of downtown Denver is much more involved that John Marin's cityscapes and yet you can see some of the things that I learned from studying his watercolors. For example, the most distant building is unpainted white paper with just a few details for the top and windows. He also used bits of white paper to keep wet colors from running together and I used bits of white paper to represent street sighs and lights. In some areas of my painting it is hard to tell where one building ends and another begins and I did that to create a sense of rhythm and abstraction. I also made it difficult to tell what are actual buildings and what are reflections on glass buildings.
John Marin's cityscapes were painted on location and mine is a studio painting which means I had more time because I wasn't working against the changing light. This is a large painting that I worked on for two days and I turned it into a mixed media painting by adding pastel. Like Marin's work, the figures in my painting are simple marks of color and the line work in the buildings and utility poles add to the rhythm. Balance is a big consideration for me and the focal point where the white bus is surrounded by rich colors is balanced by the dark shape in the bottom left corner.
Directing the viewers eye is another consideration. The curb leads you directly to the bus and the street lamps do the same. A combination of hard and soft edges is also important and you can see where I blended colors together to create a balance with the harder edges. Studying a master artist is not only interesting, it gives you the opportunity to try their ideas in your own paintings. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton