The Young Warrior
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. In a previous email, I showed a painting I did of a young Maasai girl decked out for a ceremony and this handsome young man was in that village preparing for the same celebration. His lion head dress was stunning and I wanted to capture his gesture as he swung the head dress up and placed it on his head. I painted him in front of one of their huts with the hills behind their village to show his natural surroundings in the afternoon sunlight.
Red is the color worn by the Maasai Warriors and they wear it in every shade and texture. We were not invited to this ceremony but later we did attend one of their dances and it was something I will never forget. The warriors status in their tribe is dependent on how high they can jump and, watching them spring into the air in the fire light with loud drums beating, was something to behold. At the height of their jumps, they would crash into each other slamming their chests together resulting in loud sounds similar to cannon fire. Many of the warriors spoke English and I had a long conversation with two of them. They talked about how they were no longer as nomadic because they wanted to stay near the school for their children. They also shared about how many wives they could have, if they still hunted lions, and some of their long held traditions.
When I painted this young warrior's skin tones, I was not happy with the results because I had not captured the beautiful honey tones in the bright sunlight that I was after. I decided to try a watercolor technique called glazing that would make or break the painting. I painted a thin layer of rose dore by Winsor&Newton over his skin and the result was just what I wanted. Rose dore is a delicate red that is very transparent so the original paint glowed through creating just what I was hoping for. Glazing is a technique where the artist paints one color over another after the first color is dry. It works best if the second color is transparent so that it does not bury the first color. This must be done carefully so that the two colors do not mix resulting in a muddy color. If you glaze with an opaque color like cadmium red, the first color won't be visible and you will loose that beautiful transparent glow that watercolor is known for. If you would like to practice this technique, lay down a few different washes of both opaque and transparent colors, let them dry, then glaze over them carefully with different opaque and transparent colors. The transparent colors should allow the first colors to glow through. Seeing this painting again reminds me how much I enjoy recording my travels in watercolor. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton