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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Summer's End

I included myself in this picture so that you could get a since of the size of the painting which is 40 x 60 inches.  Every year I do a couple more large flower paintings like this because it is an ongoing series.  If you are ever at Kaiser Hospital in Lone Tree, they have one of these large paintings displayed in their collection. The drawing alone took an entire day and I worked upright on an easel.  For the actual painting, I worked flat on my large drafting table and then put it back on the easel so I could step back and access my progress.  The actual painting took a little over three weeks.  I used my biggest sable brushes as well as some large Isabey brushes which are more like a mop and hold lots of water and paint.  I was especially interested in the patterns formed by the arrangement of seeds in the sunflower and I used yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw sienna, and mineral violet in that area.  For the petals, using cadmium yellow and lemon yellow I then mixed violet with those two colors for the shadow shapes.  Most of the background was created from my imagination rather than from a drawing as I developed what I thought would present the large sunflower in an interesting way.  As I was painting I worked back and forth between the sunflower and background so that they would tie together the way I wanted.  I must confess that several times in the background I washed out an area of paint, sometimes as large as 10 x 10 inches, then painted it again.  Without a preliminary drawing in the background, I was often trying out new ideas and they didn't always work.  I titled the painting "Pathos" because of the compassion I felt for the sunflower which had just passed its glory days.  The closer I came to finishing this painting, the more obsessed I became and I was working day and night with little sleep.  I was enjoying the process so much that I lost track of time and reality.  Different artists have written about this phenomenon where, after long hours of painting, they drift into a highly sensitive stare where creativity completely takes over and they are able to push their skills beyond their normal abilities.  Later, after the artist drifts back into reality, they are often astonished by what they created and wonder if they can ever do it again.  This sometimes happens for me when I am working on the large flower series because I spend so much time on each painting.  As we are all spending more time indoors and often alone, I do recommend working on something out of your comfort zone as a way to push yourself forward on a project or painting.  Happy Painting!  Dennis Pendleton

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower." - Georgia O'Keeffe -


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