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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Passion for Peonies

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Today I painted in Denver Botanic Gardens and this was my demonstration. The peonies were in full bloom and I couldn't resist painting them. One of my students suggested mixing cobalt violet with alizarin crimson and that is what I did. I teach painting things with three values so I started with a light version, used a middle value to create different layers and finally added mineral violet for the darkest values.

Under the peonies were these intricate little blue flowers that I added with cerulean blue and ultramarine blue and their dark centers are pure perylene green. I left bits of white paper and did some spattering to create the loose quality that I wanted. I surrounded the light petals of the peonies with dark greens mixed with perylene green and olive green. Surrounding a light value with dark values creates countercharge and draws the viewers eye to that area. The lighter greens in the stems, along with some of the leaves and petals were mixed with cerulean blue and lemon yellow.

Going back into the dark background with an even darker green I cut out some of the leaf shapes to create even more depth. The long stems on the peonies appear to swing out toward the viewer because they overlap other flowers, leaves and the dark background. One of these stems I added at the end of the painting by drawing a line with the tip of my wet brush then lifting out the color by tapping the wet line with a tissue. This is called lifting out and it only works if the colors are non-staining. There is still space available in my next two weekend workshops at Denver Botanic Gardens and the information is below. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

July 14, 15, & 16, 2023 and August 18, 19, & 20, 2023. You can sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 days and the prices are $95 for 1 day, $170 for 2 days and $225 for all 3 days. To sign up or ask questions, send me an email to

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