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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Making Artistic Choices

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. We have had several snowstorms in Denver so I decided to talk about this painting of Downtown on 15th Street. I really like painting cityscapes especially after a snowstorm. So many details are buried under the snow and simplifying is easier. People here in Denver can look at this painting and say "I know exactly where that is" and they have no idea how many little changes I made. My plan is to make an impression of this scene while making small changes that turn it into a painting rather than a photograph.

For example, some of the snow was worn off the street by the traffic and yet I covered it with snow most of which is unpainted white paper. I wanted a city bus in this location and rather than hope that one would show up, I included one that I saw on a side street. Now look how the bus is framed by the the utility polls and traffic lights. To accomplish this I had to move the light poll on the left that was really further down the street. The distant building which is a simple blue wash was actually brown, and I changed it to a cool color so it would recede into the distance. Next to that building and in front of the bus the atmosphere gets darker and I did that so the white bus would become more important because of the value contrast.

The shops and signs to the left and right of the traffic are colors and shapes that I found interesting rather than exactly what I saw. I twisted and turned the snow covered tree branches so that they appear to be pointing at the traffic and I tilted the cars slightly to the left and right to create a sense of movement. The bar with the yellow traffic light was actually higher and I lowered it so that the traffic light would be contrasted with the distant building. I believe it is the responsibility of the artist to make changes that will improve the painting while keeping the integrity of the subject.

The snow is unpainted white paper with accents of cerulean blue and the tall building on the left is shades of gray mixed with cerulean blue and cadmium red. The sky is the same mixture of gray in a much lighter value. The tall building on the right is raw umber mixed with cerulean blue and the black tires on the cars and bus were mixed with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The shops and signs in the middle ground are lemon yellow, cadmium red, orange and cerulean blue.



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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