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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

My Dance With The Poppies

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I painted in Denver Botanic Gardens again last week and I was captivated by these pink poppies surrounded by the tall stringy blue flowers. Unfortunately the best angle for painting was in the direct sunlight and it was a hot day in the 90's. Luckily there was a gazebo a few steps away so I set up my painting gear there in the cool shade. I walked out into the sunlight, studied the flowers for a minute then went back into the gazebo and painted. I continued this process, much to the amusement of onlookers, until the painting was finished. I also had a different view of the poppies from my vantage point in the gazebo and that helped.

Saving unpainted white paper was important when painting the poppies because it was used for the light struck petals. For the pink color I added rose dore, a very delicate red, to cobalt violet being careful not to stir up the mixture. While I was painting the flowers, I began adding rich darks and other details to create a definite value change for a strong effect. I deliberately painted each of the poppies from a different angle and cropped two of them with the borders. This created less competition for the most important flower toward the upper right corner. This composition would have been far less interesting if all the poppies were painted with equal importance.

The blue flowers are a combination of cerulean blue and ultramarine blue and the deep background colors are a combination of indigo, perylene green, olive green, and cerulean blue. To create movement I tilted the flowers, left visible brushstrokes, turned and twisted the stems, and included spattering and dripping paint. The gardens are changing everyday and I plan on painting there at least once a week all summer. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

My three weekend workshops scheduled for Denver Botanic Gardens still have openings and you can go to my website for more information or send me an email to


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