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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Painting from Memory

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Cows grazing in the aspen trees has been one of my favorite subjects for a long time. I used to live in Steamboat Springs where cows often grazed in the wilderness areas. This time I decided to paint the aspens in fall colors on a sheet of Fabriano 300 pound rough watercolor paper. I hadn't used this paper before and the ruff finish took some getting used to. Placing the paint was more difficult but I really liked the rough edges and speckles of unpainted white paper that happened when I stroked the paint onto the paper. This is known as the dry brush technique and it works the best with thick strokes of paint on rough paper. It is not a very forgiving technique that takes some practice and the results are often unpredictable. If you look closely you can see it in the trees and foreground grasses.

I have painted in aspen forests many times and this arrangement of aspen trees was from my memory and imagination. I decided to paint the trees on the left from border to border to create a sense of depth and to show the cows deep in the forest. They were surprised when I appeared to take pictures and capturing the surprised and curious looks on their faces was a challenge. I tried to create different personalities in each of their faces as they stared at the intruder.

The fall colors in the trees and grasses are combinations of transparent yellow, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, and different violets. The trees are full of subtle washes of cobalt violet, cerulean blue, yellow ochre, as well as grays mixed with cerulean blue and little bits of different reds. For the cows faces, I used the same colors I used in the trees and, for their bodies, I mixed burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and mineral violet. The darkest darks are a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. Steamboat Springs, Colorado abounds with rich subject matter and I am already planning a trip for this winter. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

This painting is 17 & 1/2 inches by 25 & 1/2 inches and 28 by 36 framed. The frame is a handsome gold leaf with a deep green mat. The price is $3,500. Contact


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