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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Size Matters


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is another painting from my workshops in Denver Botanic Gardens and it's always fun to photograph my demo among the flowers that I painted. I start with a pencil drawing and placed some of the flowers where I wanted them in the composition. I keep the drawing simple because if I put down to much detail it actually slows me down when I'm painting. Asking myself what attracted me to this spot in the fiirst place helps me organize the composition and complete the contour drawing. In this case, there were so many flowers gathered together in different colors, sizes, and shapes that I could choose what I wanted to emphasize and how I could direct the viewers eye. Also skipping the pencil along when I am drawing rather than using continues contour lines reminds me to use a combination of hard and soft edges.

Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about the golden mean, also know as the rule of thirds, and with that in mind I decided to place the bright yellow gold flowers in the upper left of the composition. If you compare those three flowers to the other yellow gold flower in the upper right you can see how it is different because of the less intense color that blends softly into the background. The lighter yellow is very close in value to the light green background thus creating the illusion of softer edges. In reality all these yellow gold flowers were the same rich colors and I decided which ones to make more important.

The vertical red flowers were slightly off to the left but I included them because I liked their tall vertical shapes in contrast to the floppy petals of the other flowers. I knew the violet flowers would harmonize nicely with the yellow flowers because they are complimentary colors meaning they compliment each other. For the same reason, I knew the red flowers at the bottom of the composition would harmonize with the surrounding green leaves because again red and green are complimentary colors. Finally I added the little blue flowers because their size made a nice contrast with all the larger flowers.

The yellow gold flowers were painted with a combination of lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, and transparent yellow and the violet flowers were mainly cobalt violet with a touch of rose dore. The vertical red flowers are a combination of cadmium red and alizarin crimson and the little blue flowers are cerulean blue and ultramarine blue. The different greens were made with olive green and lemon yellow and the background color at the top is a lighter mixture of the same two colors. There is a lot to think about when you are painting but the more you think your way through the process the more it becomes automatic and you will experience the joy of painting. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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