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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Symmetry In Composition

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This is a painting from my large floral series and it is 40 x 60 inches. Working on a composition that large in watercolor can be a real challenge because the paper buckles and you need a very large flat surface to work on. I had to learn different ways to manipulate the brush and I used weights to hold down the sections that I was working on. I found myself getting lost in different areas as I worked out designs and actually forgot that I was painting flowers.

The white petals are unpainted white paper with some light washes of blue, violet, and yellow green. Getting every passage to work well with all the other areas throughout the painting is daunting in a work this size and it is also fun as my mind moves in and out of the colors, values, shapes, and edges. The deep colors that fade into the background are mixtures of ultramarine blue, olive green, perylene green, and cerulean blue.

This is a symmetrical composition where the two iris balance each other and create harmony. They are not mirror images of each other but rather two different flowers that have a lot in common like size, and colors. Placing the one on the right behind a bud gives more importance to the one on the left. The more you look at these two iris the more you realize how different they are in spite of their commonalities. This holds the viewers eye in the painting where there is a lot to explore. One of my ideas for doing these large florals is to draw the viewers in where they can get lost as if they were walking around in a jungle. I have always admired how Henri Rousseau did this in his paintings and, although our styles are quite different, I have learned a lot from studying his work.

I started this large floral series because I knew that working on this scale would force me to learn some new techniques. I had no idea the frustrations and rewards that I continue to experience as I return to this series from time to time. As the days grow longer and the spring temperatures arrive I look forward to finding by next subject for this series. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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