top of page
Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Taos Nocturnal

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Last Sunday I talked about these ramshackle adobe buildings next to the Saint Francis Church in Taos, New Mexico being one of my favorite subjects and this is a nocturnal that I painted in my studio in Denver. I have always loved the watercolor paintings of Taos artist Tom Noble and his unique style. His color choices are rich and childlike with bright blue trees, pink adobes, lime greens, and different violets. In my mind, he represented the day-to-day life in Taos as well as any artist I have studied and I thought about him and his color choices when I painted this. He often painted night scenes that included birds flying across the foreground and I decided to see if I could make that work with my Taos muse.

I remember an old street lamp next to these adobes and I tried to imagine how that would effect the night atmosphere and colors. This gave me permission to change up my palette and I began by adding orange to my usual starting mixture of yellow ochre and cobalt violet for the adobes. Trying to imagine how the street lamp and the moonlight would cause cast shadows was fun and, for this, I added a little burnt sienna to the adobe mixture. Using lime green for the support beams and some of the grass can be attributed to Tom Noble along with the deep indigo sky and the opaque Chinese White used for the stars.

The metal pieces along the top of the adobe and the patio roof are cerulean blue with a touch of green. The flight of the magpies and the tilting of beams and the doorway added the movement I wanted and I saved the strongest value contrast of white and black for the birds. The black is a mixture of burnt umber and ultramarine blue and the light shading in the white is cerulean blue. The feeling of pathos created by the night flight of the birds in front of the broken down adobes is just what I wanted to honor the passing of my favorite modern Taos artist. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

My Taos in Watercolor 2023 Workshop scheduled for May 14-19 has only 3 spaces left so, if you are interested, send me an email to


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

Recent Posts

Find out about upcoming workshops, urban sketching events & get a FREE watercolor lesson every Sunday in your email:

bottom of page