The End of Winter
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. March is always the wettest month in Denver and we get wet heavy snowstorms that stick to everything and are the most fun to paint. When it happens, I head downtown and look for scenes like this. Today is the first day of Spring and there is one more snowstorm predicted. It will melt away quickly because warmer weather is already here. I was really lucky after the storm in this painting because they were doing some construction downtown so this street was lined with orange and white barrels and cones that added to the one point perspective. The wet snow was sticking to the street, trees, utility poles, traffic lights, buildings, and light rail car, and yet, it was gone by the next day.
If you look carefully you can see that I tilted the buildings slightly so that they formed the top of an X with the light rail car at the center and the construction cones and barrels coming out to form the bottom of the X. Making a few simple adjustments like tilting the buildings slightly can turn a painting into a time honored composition that artists have been using for hundreds of years. This is something that the average viewer doesn't notice but they do realize that the composition works even when they don't know why.
I love painting snow because it covers so many unnecessary details. Snow is seldom pure white because it reflects the colors around it and I used cool blues and violets to indicate how the snow piled up on everything. People add life and scale to a city scape and when they are bundled up in winter clothes they are even more fun to paint. As you can see, I placed them so that they added to the one point perspective and the X composition. Another decision I made was to simplify the building on the right. In reality it is full of windows but I left them out because I wanted to emphasize the utility poles with their curving shapes and the street lamps and traffic lights. Making changes to put my own thoughts into a painting is one of the things I enjoy and I actually think it is the responsibility of artists to put their imagination and feelings into their work to make it their own.
The cool colors in the snow are cerulean blue and cobalt violet. I don't have orange on my palette so I mixed different yellows and reds. The distant buildings and trees are a mixture of lemon yellow and cerulean blue. I used several different grays ranging from cool to warm and they are mixtures of different blues with earth tones such as burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Another snow storm is predicted for tomorrow and it may be the last one of the season so I plan on heading downtown to find more scenes like this that I can turn into watercolor paintings. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton