Using Dry Brush & White Paper
Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I have gone to Venice several times on painting trips and have always been interested in how other artists painted this magnificent city. John Yardley was a watercolorists from England who loved painting in Venice and, on one of my trips, I looked for as many of his painting sights as I could find. This is one that he painted several times from several different viewpoints and I was definitely influenced by his work when I painted this. He was a master of the dry brush technique where the artist uses less water and more paint so that the brush drags along the paper leaving a broken edge. You can see here how I used dry brush in the archways and windows. It adds a loose quality to watercolor painting that works especially well for old architecture and areas where you don't want all sharp edges. I teach the dry brush technique in some of my classes and it does take practice but the results are worth it.
I enjoy painting large objects in the foreground, like the two gondolas in this painting, because they add a depth of field and a three dimensional quality to a flat two dimensional piece of watercolor paper. These two gondolas also point the viewer's eye toward the gondolas and figures in the middle ground. Another thing I really appreciate about John Yardley's paintings is how effectively he used unpainted white paper. In my painting, you can see where I used unpainted white paper around the three gondolas in the middle ground and also in the background arches and windows.
I don't use black paint but rather mix my darkest darks with french ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. This way I can control the temperature by making the mixture warm or cool. The facade is a mixture of cobalt violet and yellow ochre and its reflection in the water is the same with extra cobalt violet. The tarps on the gondolas are magnesium blue and the different grays throughout the painting were mixed with cerulean blue and a little cadmium red. I have heard that Venice is not as crowded right now and I am dreaming of another painting trip. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton