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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Painting Peonies

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This week I taught a private lesson at Denver Botanic Gardens and this is what I painted. The gardens are really gorgeous right now with gigantic iris and other early blooming flowers. Before I set up to paint, I like to walk around the gardens and look at all the exciting possibilities. For plein air painting, I try to carry as few supplies as possible so everything fits into my small paintbox which then attaches to a tripod that I can set at whatever height I want.

The peonies were particularly beautiful and there was a big evergreen tree behind them which provided a rich dark background that really showed them off. After quickly indicating where I wanted the peonies in a simple pencil sketch, I jumped right in with paint. Cobalt violet was used for the peonies and I was careful to leave bits of white paper for the lightest parts. In watercolor painting, unpainted white paper takes the place of white paint. I was careful to make each one of the flowers a little different in size and location and even cropped one with the right border.

There were also some smaller red flowers with green centers mixed in with the peonies and this gave me the idea of placing cadmium red in different places for vibrant shots of color that added interest. Also, red is the complement of green so I knew it would work well with all the different greens. I used different mixtures of olive green, perylene green, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, transparent yellow, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue to create as much variety as I could in the leaves, stems, and background. Perylene green is a rich dark and, when you add a little more water, it breaks down into the most interesting smokey greens which is the color I used in the background.

Plein air painting is an experience that cannot be matched in the studio and painting with another artist makes it even more rewarding. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

This painting is 9 & 1/4 x 6 & 1/2 inches and 15 & 1/4 x 13 inches matted. The price is $400.



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