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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

The Golden Forest

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. This Thursday I am teaching two workshops for the Jane Austin Annual Writers Convention and this is the painting we will be working from. I will be teaching 58 participants who have little or no watercolor experience so it should be interesting. I have a program where I walk them through it step by step and I have rehearsed it several times with some of my students so I am confident it will work.

Aspen trees have been one of my favorite subjects ever since I moved to Colorado and lived in Steamboat Springs for ten years. I love the subtle colors in the bark and the way they thrive in the high mountain air. Skiing through the aspen trees on a sunny winter day is one of my fondest memories.

I choose one tree to be the closest and stretch from the bottom border to the top border to cover the foreground, middle ground, and background. This created a sense of depth when I placed the other trees around it. The area of olive green leaves behind the trees on the left is a nice break against all the gold and the branch of green and gold leaves behind the trees has the same effect. A combination of cobalt violet, yellow ochre, and cerulean blue was used for the shading on the trunks of the trees and the dark markings are a mixture of burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue. To show the direction of the sunlight, the left side of the trees is unpainted white paper and the coloring on the right side adds to the thickness of the trees. The gold for the leaves was interesting as I worked back and forth with lemon yellow, transparent yellow, and yellow ochre. The point being to give the illusion of the golden leaves without painting individual leaves.

The fall colors of the ferns that grow under the aspens are a combination of mineral violet and yellow ochre with a spattering of yellow to indicate falling leaves. With each aspen painting I try to capture a feeling of the season and I am looking forward to painting them in the snow this winter. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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