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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Victor Higgins Hideaway

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. In my Taos workshop, we had a glorious day of painting at the famous Victor Higgins House. This is the house that Mabel Dodge and Tony Luhan built and then sold it to the artist, Victor Higgins, for $1. The sale is actually recorded on the town register. The autumn trees were as pretty as I have ever seen them and the temperature was perfect. I set up in the front yard and painted this as my demo.

The setting was perfect and the only change I made was to add a few red hollyhocks to the tall stems. I loved the way the yellow tree branched out behind the adobe pillar and then was topped off by a tree of gold and orange. I did exaggerate the curve of the big tree trunk so that it curved over the adobe wall, yellow tree, and hollyhocks. In Taos, every adobe wall is slightly different and here I used a mixture of yellow ochre and cobalt violet. For the adobe buildings behind the wall, I used the same mixture and added a little mineral violet.

I talked about the hollyhocks as I painted them and explained that rather than using one red I used cadmium red, alizarin crimson, rose dore, and even some violet. Flowers are never just one flat color and they always look more alive when you adlib a little with color. In the green leaves of the big tree, I used olive green, perylene green, ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, cerulean blue and terra verde in different mixtures. For the flowers along the bottom of the wall, I allowed different blues, greens, yellows and reds to mix together on the paper while they were still wet. This created some interesting soft edges that did not compete with the hard edges on the wall. All these colors, shapes and edges crowded into the vertical composition and made it a fun day of painting. My thanks again to my friend John who allowed us to paint in his private yard. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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