Plein air painting, painting outdoors on location, is one of my favorite things and I did this painting during a workshop in Tuscany Italy. The weather was perfect for the entire workshop and scenes like this were everywhere. As a demonstration, I talked about this painting in terms of middle ground, back ground, and foreground. The gray and blue hills are the background, the area with the house and cyprus trees is the middle ground and the green hills with the garden are the foreground. In landscape painting the middle ground often contains the most interest with a big value range, more details, warm and cool colors, and different ways to direct the viewers eye. The large gray hills on the left and the dark values at their base are used to balance the painting so that the house and cyprus trees don’t tip the painting to the right. I will be posting more plein air paintings on my blog and starting in May I will be teaching an Urban Sketchers Workshop here in Denver where we will be doing lots of plein air painting. If you would like information on the workshop send me an email to email@example.com
I am happy to announce that my blog was just chosen as one of the top 40 watercolor blogs on the Worldwide Web. This came as a delightful surprise and I even checked with my computer expert to make sure the award is legitimate. It’s nice to know that people are finding my website and blog.
This painting is one that I had been thinking about for a long time and the title Midnight In The Artists Garden refers to the garden in my mind rather than a specific location. I had been dreaming about a painting where large sunflowers towered over smaller ones and I actually found a version of this growing in a schoolyard near my studio. It is 40×60 inches and part of a large floral series that I have been working on for several years. I painted the two large sunflowers and then let my imagination take over as I completed the rest of the painting. To counter the hot colors in the sunflowers I used lots of cooler colors in the background and the darkest darks are indigo, one of my favorite rich darks. At its darkest Indigo is still a rich deep blue that I love to use to offset other colors. For me this painting has a lot of mysterious symbolism and I hope it stimulates the viewers imagination.
“Midnight In The Artists Garden”
Watercolor, 40×60″, SOLD
Painting on location is one of my favorite things to do. I came across this scene in the Elk River Valley in Steamboat Springs Colorado. The ski mountains made an interesting backdrop for this ranch and the new hay bails were perfect. When I discovered this location it was getting late so I only did my drawing with the idea that I could return the next day to paint. This is always risky because the weather can be completely different but I was in luck when I returned and the weather and the sunlight were just what I hoped for. I usually work rather small when painting on location because of the changing light and this painting is 6×8 inches. Color temperature is a very useful tool when painting landscapes and I used cooler shades of green for the distant mountains and then used warmer greens for the trees in the middle ground where the ranch buildings are located. The warm hay bails and grasses in the foreground helped that area come forward in the painting. I will be teaching a painting workshop in Steamboat Springs this summer and I look forward to going home again. If you would like further information on the workshop send me an email.
The west coast of Mexico is a wonderful place to paint with rock formations jutting out of the water and areas where the jungle comes right down to the beach. I painted the distant hills while the sky color was still wet so that the colors would blend together and the hills would get lost in the mist. The closer hills were painted with warmer colors and then the rock formations were painted with different violets and earth tones and some of the colors were allowed to mix on the paper. When I painted the water I decided to not do any drawing but simply went in with brush and paint and worked for a sense of rhythm and movement while leaving white paper to represent the foam. After adding a few darker blues and greens I stopped. Learning when to stop is one of the hardest things about watercolor painting and lots of paintings have been ruined because the artist kept going and added to many details. I had a limited time on this painting because we were headed down the beach to a cafe that serves the most delicious blueberry pancakes. So far it has been a fairly mild winter in Denver but I am dreaming of the beaches in Mexico and blueberry pancakes.
As I sit here in my studio posting this blog it is 5 degrees outside and I am dreaming of spring when flowers will bloom and the days will be nice and warm. I painted this in the summer when the hollyhocks were full grown and the days were long and full of warm sunshine. It is part of an ongoing series of large florals that I have been working on for several years. It is 40×60 and I included myself in the photo to give a visual image of the size. Working on a watercolor this size presents special problems like the paper warping and the colors running together so I allow the medium to take over and work with the flowing colors. By concentrating on colors, values, shapes, and edges and allowing the water and paint to do some of the work I come up with passages that I could not have predicted. The more I work with what is happening rather than trying to control everything the more exciting the process. The belief that watercolor cannot be corrected is a myth and there are several areas in this painting that I wiped out and painted over. I can hardly wait until this summer when I can go to Denver Botanic Gardens and be surrounded by flowers.
This is the view from the walking bridge in Paris that connects the left bank with the right bank. Parisians actually live in these old barges and have made them into wonderful homes right in the middle of Paris. They have the right to live there as long as the boats remain docked and are not used for traffic on the river. This is one of my favorite painting spots in Paris, not only for the beautiful view but because there is only foot traffic on the bridge. It is a favorite hangout for art students and always a lively and fun locale. This is a studio painting because I wanted to take a long time on the drawing and work in a larger size. The cast shadows from the trees, movement in the water, all the details in the boats, and the distant bridge and city scape were pretty overwhelming but I did do some small drawings and color studies on location. When I look at this painting now I can still remember all the details and things I left out to make the painting more readable. When I start the earliest drawings I am always looking for details which I don’t consider essential for the overall composition so I can eliminate them.
“Barges On The Seine, Paris”
Happy Holidays everyone! It has been an exciting year with people signing up for my blog from 20 different states. As a holiday gift I have made it possible for you to watch one of my tutorials for free titled “Rich Darks In Watercolor.” It’s easy just go to
and it will take you directly to the free tutorial. I discuss this painting and another one from a painting trip to Africa and I explain how to use rich dark watercolors to make your paintings more dramatic. While you are there check out my other tutorials. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year so now the days start getting longer and Spring can’t be to far away so enjoy the tutorial and have a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Dennis
“After The Rain, Paris”
Watercolor framed 16X19 $850
Happy Holidays everyone! It has been an exciting year with people signing up for my blog from 20 different states. As a thank you gift I have made it possible for you to watch one of my tutorials for free. It’s easy just go to
and it will take you directly to the tutorial. I discuss this painting and another from a trip to Africa and you will see how I use rich dark colors to make paintings more dramatic. While you are there you can check out the other tutorials on my website. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year and today the days start getting longer and Spring can’t be far away so enjoy the lesson and have a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Dennis
“After The Rain, Paris”
Watercolor framed 16X19 $850
Cityscapes are one of my favorite subjects and this is a painting of 17th Street in Downtown Denver. It is actually a mixed media painting because I used pastel along with watercolor. These two mediums work well together and I did the major work on the painting with watercolor and then put on some final touches with pastel to add texture. This area of Denver is a favorite of mine and I have painted it several times in different weather conditions and different times of the day. The glass buildings display such wonderful reflections of the other buildings and they are always different. When I’m painting a city scape like this I am more interested in capturing the gritty feeling and the noise of the city than I am in painting a perfect architectural rendering of the buildings. I like the way the buildings seem to lean on each other and I decided which areas to emphasize and most important which details to leave out. 17th Street is almost always crowded with traffic but I kept it simple because I wanted the feeling of a more quiet Sunday morning.
“17th Street Downtown Denver”
Watercolor 22×30″, Private Collection
Driving between Steamboat Springs and Aspen Colorado you cross Gore Pass and that is where I spotted the cattle grazing in the shade of the aspen trees. This was an exciting subject with the sunlight streaming through the trees and the cows were quite curious when I walked up with my camera. The white aspens afforded me the chance to use pastel colors like cobalt violet and rose dore then I used rich darks such as perylene green and indigo in the deep parts of the forest. Warm greens in the tops of the trees were contrasted with cool greens in the tall grass and painting some of the aspen trees from the bottom border to the top border gave a nice depth to the painting. Most of all I was interested in capturing the curious looks on the faces of the cows and the dappled sunlight on their bodies. Subjects like this abound in the ranching communities of Colorado and that is one of the reasons I love living here.
Giclee Print in 3 sizes, each signed & numbered with a certificate of authenticity.
16×20 $250, 21×30: $450, 36×44: $750
1″ white border on prints