Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This time of year as winter is lingering, my mind drifts to sunny beaches, ocean breezes, and painting trips like this one in Nice, France. I was there for a week before I took a train down the coast of Italy. This was a typical sunny day and I sat on the beach and painted this on a block of 140 lb. cold press paper. Plein air painting is so rewarding and bringing home small paintings, along with drawings and paintings in my sketchbook, is much more rewarding than a bunch of photo's that I probably won't look at again. My advice for painting on location is start small with just a few colors and only one or two brushes. The less you carry the better. My favorite watercolor sketchbook is 6x8 inches by Hahnemuhle.
For this painting, my main interest was capturing the bright sunlight and the sunbathers with their colorful umbrellas enjoying a day at the beach. I was careful to paint them in different positions, stretched out, sitting, and walking, to capture the essence of a relaxing day. The hotels and houses stacked on the hillside made a nice backdrop for the beach without adding to much detail and the three palm trees added to the feeling of the Riviera.
This was done with a limited palette starting with a mixture of cobalt blue and yellow ochre for the sand. Pure colors, cadmium yellow, cerulean blue and cadmium red were used for the umbrella's and a mixture of cadmium red and yellow ochre was used for the skin tones of the sunbathers. Olive green and olive plus ultramarine blue was used for the trees on the hillside and the palm trees in front of the hotels. The ocean was painted with manganese blue and I did it with several layers of paint to get the movement in the surf. Finally, the people in the water are just dots of black mixed with burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and the sky is a light wash of cerulean blue.
Simplifying is essential when painting on location and what you leave out is just as important as what you include. I barely indicated the traffic on the road in front of the hotels and the houses on the hillside are just bits of unpainted white paper with a little color for their roofs. As the weather warms up in Denver, I will be heading out to some of the city parks and mountain towns with my sketchbook and paints to enjoy capturing the spring colors and changing sunlight. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton