Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Utilizing Color Contrast


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am in Taos, New Mexico for a workshop and this is our first day of painting. The Mabel Dodge Luhan House where we are headquartered provides so many interesting subjects that we are painting right here today. We will be setting up in front of adobe buildings, flower gardens, wooden gates, and cottonwood and aspen in fall colors. I can't load our paintings onto my computer until I return to Denver so this is a painting from a previous workshop. Hollyhocks grow very well here in the high desert and I found these in front of a charming old adobe on a side street not for from the center of town. "Taos Blue" is the color you see on so many of the windows and doorways here and it originally came from the Taos Pueblo where the Indians used it to ward off evil spirits. I used cerulean blue and taped it with a tissue while it was still wet to get the weathered texture I wanted. It was in the middle of the day and the adobe house was bathed in bright sunlight. I used cobalt violet mixed with yellow ochre and plenty of water to paint the front of the adobe house. The dark windows were the perfect backdrop for the red hollyhocks because of the strong value contrast. Surrounding light values with rich dark values is a way to create an "effect" which always commands attention. The different green leaves and stems in the lower part of the painting complement the red flowers creating another "effect" with a complimentary color scheme. My main topic for this workshop is color and we will be discussing different color schemes, color value, color mixing, and interesting ways to push colors beyond what you see. For example in this painting, I didn't just paint red hollyhocks I used different members of the red family like alizarin crimson, red violet, rose dore, and then added a few violet flowers with mineral violet and cobalt violet. It is time to head down to the dining room for breakfast so next Sunday I will show one of the paintings from this workshop. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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