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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

Winter Stream and Aspens

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. Last Thursday, November 7, I taught two workshops for the Jane Austin Convention here in Denver and most of the people had never painted in watercolor before. It was amazing to see their paintings and I would like to thank everyone who participated. Watercolor can be daunting, especially in the beginning, and everyone jumped right in and worked fearlessly.

This painting of "Winter Stream and Aspens" is one that will be in my upcoming workshop on painting aspen trees in all four seasons in watercolor. There will be two workshops and this will be in the one for beginners. Some of the techniques I will discuss and demonstrate are the effective use of white paper, how to mix grays, simplifying into shapes, and the use of hard and soft edges.

Let's look at the edges. In the trees there are soft edges of light grays against the hard edges of the dark markings and branches. In the stream you can see how I painted ice with hard and soft edges of gray against the dark water. Unpainted white paper and soft edges of cerulean blue make up the snow with a few hard edges of little branches. The background starts with burnt sienna that softens into perylene green which softens into a mixture of burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Finally that softens into the sky which is a gray mixed of brilliant orange and cerulean blue. All these soft edges help the background to appear further away as it drops behind the aspen trees. Soft edges appear further away and hard edges like in the aspen trees appear closer.

Watercolor is painted on a flat sheet of paper and you can see how the use of hard and soft edges creates the illusion of depth. Squinting helps the artist distinguish between hard and soft edges in the subject. It is also the responsibility of the artist to decide where to harden or soften an edge to create their own interpretation of the subject. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


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