How to Paint an Old Barn: Steps 5-8

Old Michigan Painting, oil painting by Yeshua's Child Art studio

Old Barn Painting final

Here are the next steps in painting the above old barn painting (I decided to show the finished product first!)

Step 5: Adding More Details 

picture of adding more barn and background detail to oil painting of barn

Step 5: adding barn and background detail

As you can see, in this step I added some of the background trees, and some more detail to the barn itself. I like to get my center of focus well in hand before doing the foreground. I added more mixes of burnt umber and ultramarine blue for darks in the barn, and added highlights of ultramarine blue, cerulean blue and titanium white to the roof. The background trees got scrubbed in with a bit of burnt sienna, burnt umber and cerulean mixes.

Step 6: starting the Foreground

Adding a rusty disc tool and grasses to the foreground

Adding a rusty disc tool and grasses to the foreground

Okay, I felt like the painting needed “something more” so I added a rusty old disc tool to the foreground, and have started putting in some of my grasses, using mixes of burnt sienna and yellow ochre, along with ultramarine blue for darks.

Step 7: Adding More Foreground and Barn Detail

adding yet more details to the foreground and barn

Step 7: Adding Foreground and Barn details

At this point, I keep going in with mixes of burnt umber, yellow ochre, and my blues for the grasses; and with the previously described colors for the barn, to add in more details. I pulled some cerulean hints into the grasses for color harmony.

For Step 8: I add my darkest darks (burnt umber and black mix) to the barn and old disc-er, add more grass details and highlights, with the finished product at the beginning of this post.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson in how to paint an old barn!

Learn How to Paint a Bird – and Help Someone Deserving

I am trying to help my friend, Kai, raise funds to come to the U.S. and study for her master’s in social work. As mentioned previously, she is a victim of human trafficking, who is dedicating her career to helping others break free of this vicious cycle.

Curious blue jay looking at ice on a stump

Birds of Michigan: Curious Jay (c)2014 11X14 oil painting

To help out, I am willing to offer 4 painting lessons (including critiques and suggestions on improvement) to those who would like to learn how to paint a bird of their choice – either your photo, or one of mine, to the first 11 people who read this post, and donate $20 or more to her campaign on indiegogo (click here to visit her page). I have to limit the number of people to 11, to give you the time and attention you would deserve.

If you do choose to do so, please contact me by email at to let me know that you would like your lessons.

The lessons will include:

  • How to sketch a bird and rough out the background, including tips on good design
  • Blocking in your colors, with tips on the types and sizes of brushes to use, how to mix the colors, and how to get the values blocked in
  • Up to 3 critiques of your painting
  • How to get the “fine details” that will make your painting stand out.
  • Feather patterns and how to portray them
  • Color harmony
  • Using the background to make a better painting (some landscape painting tips)

I look forward to helping other artists with learning how to paint birds, one of my favorite subjects.

And to helping a friend who really deserves it.

Back to the Basics: Still Life

I am spending some time going back to the basics (still life), working on technique more, with still life paintings. Don’t worry, I’ll still be painting birds and landscapes, too, but want to work on my overall mixing, brush strokes, etc. Below, I’ll share how I did it for those who would like to know:

An oil painting study of oranges and grapes on a green cloth

“Oranges and Grapes” study, oil, 16 X 20

1. First,  I set up the still life the way I wanted, using a green fuzzy towel for contrast with the orange colors.

2. I then sketched in the objects and light shadows with ultramarine blue and olive green mixed.

3.   I then painted in the background with a mix of yellow ochre, cad. yellow med., burnt sienna, olive green and black, in varying proportions.

4. I then painted the towel, first the underpainting in ultramarine blue and olive green. I also did the main shadows for the oranges in the same colors.

5. I then painted the towel with a mix of sap green, cad.yellow light, and white in varying proportions (once the underpainting was dry).

6. I then blocked in the mass of grapes (alizarin, dioxide purple, ultramarine blue, and some black), and the oranges (cad. yellow med.,, cad. red med, and cad yellow light in varying mixes).

7. I created shadows with the above colors mixed with ultramarine blue (and black, for the deepest values), and highlights by adding white to the mixes.

8. I then ate the still life in a fruit salad when it was done! My favorite part!

How to Paint a Finch in Oils: Stages 4, 5 & 6

Today, I’ll share the next steps in creating a finch painting in oils.

adding lights and darks to the background

adding darks and lights to the background

I now start adding more darks and lights to the background, defining the branches and the snow behind the bird. This will get reworked. I mix the snow hues with ultramarine blue, cobalt blue and titanium white, with a hint of burnt sienna; in the sunny areas, I add a touch of cadmium yellow light and more white. The branches are getting thicker and more defined now. Now for the next step: working on the body of the bird more.

stage 5 adding detail to the bird

Stage 5: working on the body of the bird

In this stage, I add burnt sienna mixed with ultramarine blue to the body and head; and create cream colors with the above plus yellow ochre and white; I start at the front of the bird, and work my way down the body. At this point, the painting looks “gaudy” because I have yet to tone down the bright colors with shadows and highlights; these will come later. My main goal is to show the roundness of the body, and the feather patterns.

in stage 6, the body of the finch is defined more

Stage 6: underpainting the body of the finch

Okay, it’s starting to look like a bird amid snow-covered branches. At this point, it’s got lots of nice color; that’s part of the fine, trying out different colors and combinations. I could stop at this stage, but I like a lot of depth and realism and fine detail, so I’ll keep going. In a few days, I’ll share the finished painting.

Let me know how your painting progresses!

How to Paint a Finch with Oil Paints: Steps 1, 2 and 3

I decided to break down how I approach painting birds, to help others who enjoy painting wildlife.

Grays, blues and whites on the background of this bird oil painting

Stage 1: Creating the background canvas color

Above is my very favorite part of painting: taking a blank white canvas, and priming it with the background colors. For this painting, which is set in a snowy woods, I used mixes of ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, titanium white and a hint of burnt sienna to create the blues and grays. I added a tint in places of pthalo green as well, just for variety. Now, it looks like a soft abstract of blues and grays, just waiting for the painting. This is the exciting part – the possible painting.

Next, I lightly sketch in my main features – the bird and branches for the painting.

in stage 2, a light sketch of the main elements of the painting

Stage 2: sketching in elements

It doesn’t look like much yet, but this step is important. I tend to sketch in freehand; I do know some artists who create computer carbons for their birds or portraits, but I prefer sketching it myself; I often play with where things will sit until I am happy with the result. You can always “rub out” the sketch easily with a bit of turpentine and a rag at this stage.

Next, I start strengthening the background. I always work on my background first, for a reason: if I finish my bird first, I tend to “lose interest” or rush the background. If I work on my background first, then I will spend more time on it.

In stage 3 the background branches in the oil painting are defined better

Stage 3: defining the background & bird more

I also start blocking in some of the finch colors lightly: burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, titanium white, yellow ochre, cad. yellow light for this stage. This lets me know if my sketch is accurate; I constantly redefine as I work.

I’ll share more in my next post.