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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Rock Your Painting!

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I enjoy teaching private lessons with the one-on-one experience and this is a painting from one of those lessons. My friend brought a photo of her flower garden and we worked on it together. This is my finished painting and it gives me the opportunity to talk about a few things - the first of which is painting rocks.

These are "river rocks" which indicates they have been in moving water for a long time and that has smoothed the rough edges. Rocks with hard and rough edges have not been in moving water, at least not for very long. With these rocks, I smoothed the edges with a damp brush as I went along. Making sure that they were different sizes, different colors and different color temperatures was also important. I mixed different grays with cerulean blue and red and added yellow ochre when I wanted a really warm temperature. For the shadow sides, I used the same mixtures in darker values.

There is an old Chinese saying that ricks have three faces and I think about that when I am painting. It means that rocks are not perfectly flat and you should paint three different edges. Looking at my painting you can see how this gives the rocks volume and weight. Catching the sunlight is another way to add interest. Here you get a sense that the sun is shinning from above and to the left. On some of the rocks, I left unpainted white paper to show the sunlight. How the rocks settle onto the ground is also important and you can see darker values in that area and grass growing up over the rocks. Relating the rocks to the flowers was accomplished with overlapping and a few cast shadows across the rocks from the flowers. Also as the flowers come up against the rocks, there are darker values because less sunlight gets in those areas.

The flower pot is a mixture of burnt sienna and raw umber with ultramarine blue added to the mixture for the shadows. The pink sidewalk is a mixture of rose dore and cobalt violet and the warm grass next to the sidewalk is lemon yellow mixed with cerulean blue. The dark background is perylene green mixed with olive green and the leaves in the tall bush are olive green. The white flowers are unpainted white paper with just a few added with white watercolor. Other colors used for the flowers are rose dore, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, cadmium red and alizarin crimson. A combination of hard and soft edges allows the different groups of flowers to relate to each other. The weather is a little cooler now so take your paints to a garden in your neighborhood and have fun painting the rich colors. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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