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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Sailing in the Stars

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am always on the lookout for iconic and historic monuments and places in Denver that would make interesting paintings. This is Eugene Field's house and he was the Denver writer and poet that wrote the children' s fantasy story, Wynken Blynken and Nod, that was published on March 9th, 1889. The story is about 3 children sailing and fishing among the stars from a boat which is a wooden shoe. Moly Brown, the famous Denver socialite who survived the sinking of the Titanic, bought Mr. Fields house and donated it to the Denver Historical Society. It is now located in Washington Park in Denver along with this statue depicting the 3 children in their wooden shoe boat.

I made sure that I was there at the right time to catch the sunlight casting on the faces of the children while most of the trees and house were in shadow. The drawing was difficult and took as long as the actual painting but I wanted to make a few subtle changes before I started painting like moving the house a little closer to the statue, filling in the trees so that the sky barely peaked through, and adjusting the window to show off the children's faces. I also placed small branches around the children so that the large pine trees and the statue related to each other.

The statue is white so I used different grays and color temperature changes to help create volume. As you can see I painted the children with warm colors and the boat with mainly cool colors. The photo's I took showed the shadow side of the house much darker and devoid of colors and this is one of the dangers of painting from photo's, the shadows appear darker with little or no temperature changes. I revisited this location several times to study how my subject looked in natural light rather than relying only on my camera. I also added cool cerulean blue to the window to contrast with the warm yellow ochre and violet on the children's faces. These days when I am walking in Washington Park I always stop and look at this monument and remember the fun I had painting this watercolor. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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