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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

The Mariachi Violinist

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I was on a painting trip in Mexico with my mentor, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, and this musician was playing in a band where we had dinner. We hired him to come to the plaza where we were staying and we spent the next morning painting and taking pictures. He told us that his clothing was made by his wife and the violin had been passed down through his family. I did a small painting of this pose then did this larger one, 22 x 30 inches, in my studio back in Denver.

My major concerns were capturing the light and shadow on the figure and getting the foreshortening right in his arms and hands. For the skin tones, I used yellow ochre and raw sienna and added burnt sienna for the shadows. The face of the violin had powder sprinkled on it, probably from the bow, so I left bits of unpainted white paper when i painted the cast shadows from the strings. The clothing was interesting because I wanted the white cotton sleeves to look like thin fabric and the serape to look thick and heavy. The subtle shading in the white sleeves is a light value of cobalt blue mixed with yellow ochre and the colorful trim is cerulean blue and cadmium red. The serape is cerulean blue and Indian red and it looks thick because of the soft edges in the folds.

Cadmium red and lemon yellow were used for the bandanna and the straw hat is the same colors I used for the shirt sleeves. He was standing in front of a white stucco wall so i used some brush strokes and spattering of that same mixture of cobalt blue and yellow ochre for the texture. If you study this composition you can see the figure is cropped by three of the borders. This makes the negative shapes behind him more interesting and the dripping paint behind him makes that negative shape more interesting. Seeing this painting again reminds me of those halcyon days of traveling and painting with my mentor. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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