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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

The Ceremonial Attire

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Several years ago I went to Africa with the Denver Zoo and it was the trip of a lifetime. The clean air and smells of the earth are something I will never forget. I found this young girl in a Maasai Village where they were preparing for a ceremony. She was stunning and I took enough pictures to complete this painting back in Denver. I still remember the respect shown to her by the other members of the village and her regal presence. I was intent on capturing the way she held her head and her demure expression.

As a watercolor artist, I have worked hard to learn to use the white paper effectively without relying on white opaque paint. In this case, the white face paint is actually unpainted white paper with a light warm gray for modeling. You can also see unpainted white paper in her shell necklace. I did add a little cerulean blue on some of the shells so that her face remained the dominate white. I chose deep perylene green with very little water for the background because I knew it would show off the reds and I made sure it was full of texture. You can actually see some of my fingerprints where I pressed them into the wet green paint. The red paint on her face is cadmium red and, where it is in cast shadow, I added a little mineral violet. The lion headdress, some of which is cut off in this photo, is mainly yellow ochre with careful attention to hard and soft edges. The jewelry hanging down from the headdress, combined with her ear rings, made a nice transition of rich color against the side of her face and a single ring of color on the other side against the deep green background. Her faded red shirt is a combination of cadmium red and rose with violet added in the cast shadows.

It must have taken all morning to complete her makeup and some of the warriors were also handsomely attired in red blankets and tall lion headdresses. Several of the men spoke english and it was interesting talking to them about their customs and religion. I painted several of them as well and I am sure that some of their portraits will appear in later emails. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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