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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Painting Shadows

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is a walking trail where I used to live in Centennial, Colorado and I did this painting in the afternoon when the trail was covered with cast shadows from the surrounding trees. The time of day is important to plein air painters. In the morning and late afternoon, there are long cast shadows and in the middle of the day their are short cast shadows because the sun is directly overhead. Cast shadows provide an opportunity to add more values and colors. It was the French Impressionists who went outside to paint on location and saw that cast shadows were not just dark but were also full of color.

In this painting you can see the cast shadows are a darker green as they cross the grass and darker grays as they cross the trail. Because I allow the colors to mix on the paper, as well as on the palette, you can see colors within the green like dark blue and lemon yellow, Within the grays on the trail you can see hints of cerulean blue, burnt sienna, and violet. The fall colors in the background started with lemon yellow and transparent yellow and then I added orange and red orange. It is important to build these colors without much detail and then add more and more details as you move forward.

I saved the most detail for the middle ground with the big trees and the man walking his dog. For the big trees I again let the colors mix on the paper and you can see cerulean blue, Indian red, burnt sienna, violet, and some of the gold from the distant trees mixing with the gold and orange on the trees in the middle ground. The branches are burnt sienna with other colors bleeding into them. It is important to paint them weaving in and out of the gold colors. Allowing colors to mix on the paper also promotes more granulating which you can see on the bark of the large trees.

Every time I put down a brush stroke I am deciding if I want hard or soft edges. You can see the trunks of the trees are hard edged and then the edges are soft where they mix with the leaves and the ground colors. For the man walking his dog, I used the same techniques of paint mixing on the paper and a combination of hard and soft edges so that he would fit comfortably into his surroundings. There is always a lot to think about when you are painting so if you think about one thing like where to use hard and soft edges as you add colors and values it will eventually become more automatic. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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