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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Winter Aspens

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. I am developing a workshop where we will be painting aspen tress in all four seasons and this is one of the paintings I will be using. The workshop will be available in early 2023. I painted this in my studio in Denver from sketches in my sketchbook, other paintings I have done, photo's and memories of living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. On the way to the hot springs in Steamboat Springs, you drive on a little dirt road through an aspen forest and you pass beaver ponds and a stream like this one. When I lived there, we used to cross country ski to the hot springs at night when there was a full moon. Today the hot springs is more developed with deeper pools, a wigwam for changing into bathing suits and even a lodge where you can get a massage. It is the perfect thing to do after a day of painting on one of the ranches or in the forest on Rabbit Ears Pass.

I learned from my mentor, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, that snow is not just white but rather it is full of color from shadows, cast shadows and reflected color. It is these shadows that give form to the deep snow. In this painting, the pure white snow is unpainted white paper and the colors in the snow are cerulean blue, grays mixed with rose dore and cerulean blue, cobalt violet, and yellow ochre. The dark areas where the ground is visible are a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. I wanted to show that the stream was partly frozen so I painted the lighter area with gray mixed with cerulean blue and cadmium red and then used a darker version of the same mixture for the unfrozen water. The light side of the aspen trees is also unpainted white paper and the shadow sides are cerulean blue, cobalt violet, and yellow ochre which were mixed right on the paper rather than on the palette. The background colors are mixtures of olive green, perylene green, and cerulean blue.

This summer I will be teaching a workshop in Steamboat Springs late July-early August and it will give me a chance to visit with old friends and paint some of my favorite mountain scenes. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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