Painting A Vignette
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Vignette comes from a french word meaning "little vine" and it is a small image that fades into its background without a definite border. A vignette also incorporates the beauty of the paper and the negative shapes should be as interesting as the painted shapes. Vignettes give the artist the opportunity to put down ideas quickly while leaving out all the extra bits and pieces that don't add to the subject.
In my last Botanic Gardens Workshop we talked about vignettes and this is one I painted of a plant growing up the wall near the Beehive Cafe. I was intrigued by the little lantern shapes and I decided to include three because odd numbers are pleasing to the eye. The fact that vignettes can be done rather quickly is an advantage because you can do several and not be attached to each one. I did three that day and this is the only one I saved. There were little pink flowers growing among the leaves and lanterns and I put them down quickly with cobalt violet mixed with rose dore. Claude Monet wrote about how he thought pink and green made a beautiful combination and I thought about that when I was painting.
The green leaves are combinations of olive, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and lemon yellow and the lantern shapes were painted with lemon yellow and cerulean blue. As I moved away from the lantern shapes, I faded out some of the colors by adding more water to the paint plus a few light strokes of cerulean blue and some spattering. I knew that these three techniques would soften the painting into the background. One of the fun things about painting this vignette was trying to make the negative shapes, in this case the white paper, as interesting as the painted shapes. That is just one of the lessons that can be learned from painting vignettes. I have decided to devote a new sketchbook to only painting vignettes because I enjoy them so much and they provide such a wonderful opportunity for learning. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton