Painting a White Barn
- 1 1/2″ (381mm) Flat Winsor & Newton Series 965
- 1″ Grumbacher Aquarelle Flat Red Sable
- #12 Winsor & Newton Series 7 Red Sable
- #10 Winsor & Newton Series 820 Red Sable
- #6 Grumbacher Watercolor Classic Red Sable
- #4 Round Red Sable
- Sap Green
- Hooker’s Green Dark
- Phthalocyanine Blue
- Cobalt Blue
- Dioxazine Purple
- Alizarin Crimson
- Permanent Rose
- Raw Sienna
- Burnt Umber
- Spiral Pad (11″ x 14″) by Canson: 140lb cold press watercolor paper
- #2 Pencil
- Kneaded Eraser
- Palette – Your choice. Mine is an old Robert E. Wood model.
- Water container (x2) with clean water
- Hair dryer (optional)
- Photo or sketch big enough for you to see reasonably well
Step 1: Do the Work
Although not necessary, usually a light drawing is done to block in the shapes and arrange the composition.
NOTE: For a bit of fun and challenge, skip the drawing and start painting right away. It’s a great visual skill builder, especially when it turns out well.
Step 2: First Washes
Using my 1 1/2″ flat brush, I dampened the sky area of the paper, taking care to cut in the edges of the barn correctly. I used a mix of Cerulean and Cobalt Blue for the initial wash.
I made a darker mix of Burnt Umber and Cobalt, and darkened the sky towards the lower left. I carried the same tone to a few foliage areas in the foreground.
I then took a 1/2″ flat brush with the Cobalt/Cerulean mix plus some Dioxazine Purple, squeezed it fairly dry, and pulled texture into the face and sides of the barn. This is called the “dry brush” technique.
Step 3: Laying the Groundwork
Using washes of Sap Green, Hooker’s Green Dark, Raw Sienna, and Burnt Umber, I painted in the rolling fields.
I varied this tone to darken and gray down the background hills and woodsy areas.
Step 4: A Lot Has Happened…
…since the last picture. I became so frustrated I forgot to take an intermediate picture. I’ve added trees using Hooker’s Green Dark and Burnt Sienna. I made an attempt at the background bare trees.
The intriguing angle of the cast shadow was important to the composition and drama of this barn, so I took some time getting the color and shape right. I then added a few building details to the rest of the barn using a #4 round sable.
Other fore- and middle-ground details were built up, such as the fence to the right and the drainage trough in the foreground.
Step 5: Building the Details
Using a combination of Pthalocycnine Blue, Cobalt Blue, and Burnt Umber, I added the windows and open door details as well as picking out shadows on the rough surfaces.
I flicked in the lightning rods with the same mixture.
Step 6: Working the Foreground
The painting was looking too cool (i.e. in terms of color temperature) with all the blue in the shadows of the barn so I bumped up the warmth of the surrounding fields using Raw Sienna, Cadmium Orange, and Sap Green.
To break it up the foreground and add a little interest, I added indications of grasses and a rolling hill.
Step 7: Final Touches
Using a dark mixing of Phthalocyanine Blue and Burnt Umber and my 1/2″ flat brush I added the texture of bare branches against the sky and over that nasty area to the right of the barn that gave me trouble. I called it done at this point!
Step 8: What Happened Back There?
In step 3.5, I painted the woods to the right of the barn…but I drew them poorly. I wasn’t paying attention, and by the time I realized I needed another element in that area, the paint was already down.
I used a stiff #6 nylon acrylic painting brush and a piece of tissue to lift the paint with clear water and dabbing.
Step 9: A Little Patchwork
With a blend of Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Orange, and Cobalt Blue, I quickly plugged a little red building to hide behind the trees. Using some of my sap green mixture, I darkened the hill behind the building.
I then added some blue to the same brown mixture I used for the branches and re-painted the trunks and branches over the brand new building.
Accenting around the bottom I added bits of a fence using a warm gray cobalt/umber mix of paint
Step 10: A Final Touch…Again
When I added the far-tree texture, most remnants of my lapses in judgement had been obliterated…close enough!
Step 11: Finished Painting
Another one bites the dust. Now that wasn’t too bad was it. Not a masterpiece, but a learning experience nonetheless.