Snowstorm


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. With the giant snowstorm that hit Denver over the weekend I thought this would be an interesting painting to talk about. I enjoy painting cityscapes, especially after a snowstorm. The blanket of white eliminates so many details and gives an overall theme to the composition. One of the things that fascinated me here was the snow on the tree branches. On the left the tree is against a darker background and the snow is pure unpainted white paper. The tree on the right is against the light blue gray sky and the snow on the branches is actually a blue gray that is darker than the sky. A long time ago I learned from my mentor Lowell Ellsworth Smith that snow is not always white because it reflects colors and is full of cast shadows. This was one of those wet snowstorms that sticks to everything and I worked carefully to leave bits of unpainted white paper everywhere so that I wouldn't have to resort to white opaque paint. I left the street in the foreground mostly white and started the tracks in the snow closer to the vehicles. This keep that area from being to busy and then I used the tracks to ease the viewer into the middle ground where there is the most excitement with the vehicles, trees, stores, utility poles, signs and lots of rich colors. The background is the distant building which is a simple block of color, devoid of details, that fades into the foggy sky. The largest building is the old public service building that lights up so beautifully against the night sky. I really like this large handsome shape in relation to all the smaller colorful shapes and details in the focal area with the traffic. I was careful to keep the windows a light value so that they would not compete with the colors and details in the middle ground. I used the utility poles and the tree branches to create sort of an umbrella effect curving over the traffic and rich colors of the stores and signs. This is a subtle way of leading the viewers eye in and around the middle ground. The warm gray on the public service building is a mixture of cerulean blue, cobalt violet and yellow ochre. This particular gray mixture allows me to control the temperature and make it warm or cool depending on which of the three colors dominates the mixture. The distant building is a mixture of cerulean blue and a small amount of olive green. Dripping paint was used to indicate snow and slush on the bus and other vehicles then I tipped then slightly to the left and right to show them sliding through the snow. We have more snow predicted for this week and I know I will venture downtown to find more subjects like this for studio paintings. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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