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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Sunny Afternoon

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Another page from my sketchbook! This is the Victor Higgins House in Taos, New Mexico and one of our favorite places to paint in my Taos Workshop. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the light and shadow were spectacular. As I was painting, I kept reminding myself that everything in shadow is darker than everything in the sunlight. That means that the white adobe wall under the porch on the left had to be painted a dark gray for the painting to work. If you follow this rule, it will make the areas in sunlight even brighter because of the contrast in values.

English artists use the word "countercharge" to explain how surrounding a light value with dark values creates high interest and you can see that here with the yellow flowers. The chamisa bush was interesting because I struggled with the colors. Finally I used lemon yellow, terra verde, with yellow ochre and, for the darker shadow areas, I mixed burnt sienna with ultramarine blue. Later in the year the chamisa bushes have more gold coloring but I wanted to be accurate to the spring colors. I try not to get carried away with details but I couldn't resist including the coyote fence in the distance behind the tree trunks.

For the adobe, I mixed cobalt violet with yellow ochre and then added some darker brush strokes of the same mixture for texture. All the posts, poles, rain spouts, wood trim, tree trunks and the coyote fence are different mixtures of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. Cadmium yellow was used for the tulips and the foreground dirt is raw umber mixed with cerulean blue and cobalt violet. Painting on days like this, I can understand how artists have always been attracted to the famous Taos sunlight. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

My Denver Botanic Gardens Weekend Workshops still have some spaces available and the dates are June 16, 17, & 18, 2023.....July 14, 15, & 16, 2023.....August 18, 19, & 20, 2023. You can sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 days and the prices are $95 for 1 day, $170 for 2 days, and $225 for all 3 days. If you would like to sign up or have questions, send me an email to

Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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