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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Paint The Music

I traveled on a painting trip through Mexico with my mentor, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, and this musician was preforming in a restaurant in San Miguel.  We hired him to model for us the next day and I did a small painting that I later developed into this large painting which is 22 x 30 inches.  I read somewhere that when painting a musician "don't just paint the figure but actually try to paint the music" and that is what I was thinking about when I worked on this painting. His clothing was all hand made and I wanted to show the thickness of the poncho compared to the thin cotton shirt.  This was accomplished by laying down colors with soft edges that created thick folds then softening the edge of the poncho where it laid on his cotton sleeve.   It was fun painting the traditional designs and colors in a way that indicated the human body underneath. His skin tones, especially in the direct sunlight, were a handsome warm color so I used yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and a glaze of rose dore.  The violin was a challenge because it was sprinkled with white powder from the bow and strings.  I dabbed on a light gray and then painted the cast shadows on top.  I cropped his hat and the tip of his right hand to make more interesting negative shapes and then added a mixture of yellow ochre and cobalt blue to indicate the wall behind his hat.  I own a bandana exactly like the one he was wearing so I used it as a prop.  The idea of "painting the music" is an abstract concept and yet, when I look at this painting, I do remember that exciting day painting next to my mentor.  Happy Painting!  Dennis Pendleton .


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