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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Venice Vignette

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Vignette: French word meaning a small illustration or painting which fades into its background without a definite border and also incorporates the beauty of the unpainted paper. As the painting fades into its background, the artist often uses dry brush, spattering and other watercolor techniques to make the transition interesting.


Vignette's are popular for plein air painting because the artist can work faster without being concerned with finishing the painting to the four borders. Just painting without concern for the borders is not enough, the artist should consider how the painting takes advantage of the unpainted paper. This means deciding what is essential and what can be left unfinished or left out. The viewer can now use their imagination and the painting becomes more interesting. In this vignette, I left the balcony and the window on the right unfinished and let the green canal water drip down to the bottom border. In my mind the the negative shapes became more interesting with the one brush stroke running into the bottom border and I also think it stabilizes the composition. As you can see, some of the edges soften into the white paper and others are more abrupt. This variety of edges is typical for a vignette.


The entrance was painted with yellow ochre and cobalt violet at the top and bottom with the rest being a mixture of burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue. Perylene green and cerulean blue were uses for the two values in the canal water and the exposed bricks were painted with Indian red and yellow ochre. The different grays throughout the painting are mixtures of cerulean blue, cobalt violet, yellow ochre, and brilliant orange. Vignettes are often painted in sketchbooks so, if you have one, try painting some vignettes in your neighborhood or favorite location. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton



Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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