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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Snow Is Full Of Color

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. In January 2022, I will be teaching a workshop in Steamboat Springs through the Steamboat Art Museum. We will be painting scenes like this in the comfort of the Museum where images will be projected on a large screen in the museum classroom. I will be in Steamboat Springs earlier in the winter taking pictures on the ranches, along the rivers, in the forests and around town that will be used for the class. The dates are January 28, 29, and 30 and, for more information, contact Dottie Zabel at the Steamboat Art Museum or send an email to

After living in Steamboat Springs for ten years, I have always enjoyed painting winter scenes like this one. I was taught by my mentor, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, that snow is never just pure white because it reflects the colors around it and the cast shadows across it are full of color. In this painting, I used cerulean blue and cobalt violet for the snow in the trees and added rose dore to warm up the snow in the foreground.

I did not use masking fluid to save the white snow on the branches. Instead I carefully painted around where I wanted pure white with different layers of gray and blue and violet. I find masking fluid annoying and have never been able to get the results I want with it. The depth in this painting was achieved by carefully layering colors in light to medium values and adding branches along the way. This is a careful process where I worked slowly allowing areas to dry as I moved along.

If you look carefully you will notice that the left side of the forest is slightly darker than the right side. I did this so that the trees on the left side would look a little further away and to add depth to the painting. It appears that more sunlight is getting through on the right and that is just what I wanted. The aspen trees are painted with yellow ochre and violet with a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for the darker areas. Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley are beautiful in the winter and I hope you will consider joining my workshop in January. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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