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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Red, White and Blue

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is another painting for my upcoming workshop on painting aspen trees in all four seasons. I actually painted this on the 4th of July from some old photo's and memories. Later I realized that I had used the colors red, white, and blue. You never know where the subconscious mind will lead you. I was careful to leave unpainted white paper for parts of the trees and snow because, in watercolor painting, we usually don't use white paint. It is possible to paint over other colors with opaque white paint but the results are never as clean and clear as unpainted white paper.

Aspen trees aren't really pure white, they include warm and cool grays, yellow ochre, and even shades of green. Underneath the bark is a green substance that sometimes makes its way onto the surface. Cast shadows across snow are also full of color and here I used cobalt violet, cerulean blue, and even a little yellow ochre for a temperature change. The water was an interesting challenge because I wanted it dark enough to create a real contrast with the snow and the trees and, at the same time, I wanted to show ice and rocks covered with snow. The water is a combination of perylene green and ultramarine blue and the snow on the rocks is cerulean blue. For the ice, I watered down the mixture that I used for the water.

I wanted the evergreen trees to serve as a backdrop for the composition and I painted them with olive green and ultramarine blue. In this case, I did use opaque watercolor white to put some snow on the evergreens. I allowed it to mix slightly with the greens because I didn't want it to be a pure white. Finally, the very distant evergreen trees are a mixture of cerulean blue and a little Indian red. When painting snow, try pastel colors like violet, cerulean blue, yellow ochre and any other colors that seem right to you. As long as the values are right, you will be successful. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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