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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Painting Cafe Ambiance

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am teaching an Online Zoom class, "Painting Cafes In Watercolor," that starts October 5th at the Art Students League of Denver. It is a four week class that meets on Tuesdays from 1-3:30 and there is still room to signup. This is a painting of the Market Cafe in Larimar Square in Downtown Denver and sadly, after a long history, it closed during the pandemic. It was always one of my favorite places to have a cup of hot chocolate and draw and paint in my sketchbook. It had that old world charm with the wooden plank floor, round wooden tables with unique heart shaped metal chairs, and lots of shelves full of colorful items. They also sold excellent sandwiches and the most divine deserts.

I was sitting at a table on the second level facing the entrance and the sunlight coming through the doorway and windows was my main interest for this painting. I did sketches and color studies, took a few pictures and did this final painting in my studio. I knew the light wouldn't stay exactly the way I wanted so I worked quickly in my sketchbook to paint examples of the chairs and tables, sunlight on the floor, people, and all the clutter that made the place so interesting. I thought the gentleman in the black suit carrying the tray with his lunch would make a nice focal point so I did several sketches of him.

Back in my studio, I worked from my sketches, color notes and pictures which were all laid out on my painting table. The sunlight on the wooden floor is yellow ochre with the addition of burnt sienna for the cast shadows. Unpainted white paper was left for the doorway, windows, napkins and cups on the tables. I wanted to show that this was a place where you could relax, read, have a conversation, and enjoy food and drink so I included five patrons and made sure each one had an interesting gesture as they blended into the environment. I simplified the clutter on the shelves and racks by placing bits of color next to other bits of color with unpainted white paper to separate the boxes, tins, and cards. The awnings are a very light gray mixed with cerulean blue and cadmium red with pure cerulean blue for the stripes. The gentleman carrying the tray is backlit and I mixed burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for his suit and left white paper with a bit of cerulean blue for his shirt.

In my pictures the areas under the tables were black, often a problem when working from photo's, so I painted middle and dark grays with visible brushstrokes. Sign up for my class and paint along with me some charming cafes full of light/shadow and color where people can enjoy relaxing with friends. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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