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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Pull On Your Cowboy Boots

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for ten years before I moved to Denver and it still remains one of my favorite places on the planet. I enjoy teaching a plein air three-day workshop at Steamboat every summer in late July. This is another page from my sketchbook and the subject is the ranches in Steamboat Springs. The landscape is a ranch on the Elk River and the longhorn skull hangs on the side of an old barn on another ranch owned by a friend and fellow artist.

Putting more than one painting on the same page is something I enjoy doing in my sketchbook. I think the juxtaposition of two ideas tells me even more about the subject which, in this case, is the ranches in Steamboat Springs. Because the pages in my sketchbook are 6 x 9 inches, I can work quickly with these little paintings, recording ideas, things I see, and memories, that often lead to larger paintings. The sketchbook is the perfect place for me to try out different color combinations and value changes that go beyond or simplify just what I see. For example, the cool blue in the distant mountain in reality was a cool green and the hanging longhorn skull is reduced to three values. The skull is a light value, the barn wood is a middle value and the cast shadow is a dark value. Working through ideas like this is a way of training my mind to see beyond what is actually there. I even practice seeing this way when I take walks and it pulls me more into the environment and takes my mind off mundane day-to-day activities.

For the barn wood, I mixed burnt sienna and raw umber with ultramarine blue, the horns are cobalt blue mixed with yellow ochre, and the skull is unpainted white paper with with some light strokes of cerulean blue and cobalt violet. For the landscape, the distant mountain is cerulean blue with a mixture of olive green and cerulean blue for the darker shapes. Yellow ochre and burnt sienna were mixed for the hayfield and hay bails and the distant trees are olive green, lemon yellow, and ultramarine blue. Rose dore was used for the roofs on the ranch buildings and the fence posts in the foreground are burnt sienna mixed with ultramarine blue. I have another idea for my sketchbook that I will be working on later today and, if you are not putting down your ideas in a sketchbook, you are missing out on something that is fun and also advances your development as an artist. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

My three day plein air workshop in Steamboat Springs is July 28, 29, and 30, 2023 and, to sigh up, you contact the Steamboat Art Museum and talk to Dottie Zabel who sets up the workshops. If you have any questions, send me an email to


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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