How to Paint an Old Barn: Steps 1 – 4

I decided to paint another old barn for my “Barns of Michigan” series of oil paintings. And also decided to photograph the process for readers, to show the steps in creating a realistic old barn in oils.

Step 1: Block in the sky and ground areas

blocking in sky and ground in an old barn painting lesson

Old Barn Painting Step 1

In any landscape painting, it is critical to decide how much sky you will have, and also determine the main colors. I usually block in the sky first, using a mix of cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and titanium white, with a hint of burnt umber for cloud shadows, and also do a warm underpainting (yellow ochre, burnt sienna, cad. yellow light) for my ground.

Step 2: Sketch in the barn

Old Barn oil painting lesson: step 2 sketching in the barn

Old Barn Painting: Step 2

This next step is critical: getting the perspective and shape right. I try to do the best possible sketch at this point, using perspective. I will rework some areas later, but I am sitting the barn where I want it in the picture at this point, using ultramarine blue to sketch it in.

Step 3: Blocking in the Barn Main Shapes

blocking in the barn areas and colors in this free oil painting lesson

Old Barn Oil Painting Step 3

Now, I start painting in the barn and roof, blocking in the initial colors, and getting some of the darks in for old boards and missing board areas. It’s starting to look like a barn now. I use burnt sienna, burnt umber, and ultramarine blue, for the barn boards; and use these same colors mixed with titanium white and a bit of cerulean blue on the roof. Right now, I’m just “roughing in ” the shape of the barn; detail will come later with other layers. This will sit overnight to dry.

Step 4: adding more detail to side wall

Old Barn oil painting lesson: adding detail to the barn walls

Old Barn Painting: Step 4

Now for the fun part: adding more detail to the roof and side of the barn. I do this by adding darks (burnt umber, ultramarine blue) and lights (burnt sienna, yellow ochre, burnt umber and a hint of white) to detail the boards more. This is when the sketch done earlier shows: the perspective “makes’ the picture in a sense.

In the next steps, I will be adding the foreground and more details.

Peaceful Afternoon by the Baldwin River

I love the fact that spring is really in full swing here after a long and cold winter; it’s sunny and the moss is growing on the front lawn; irises and tulips are putting up leaves. So, I decided to do an outdoor painting, based on a photo I took of my side lawn and some outdoor chairs last summer.

oil painting of lawn chairs in the woods near Baldwin, MI

Peaceful Afternoon on the Baldwin River, oil, 16 X 20, (c)2015

I wanted to capture the feel of afternoon light on the grass and trees, and had a lot of fun with this one!

Palette used: yellow ochre, burnt sienna, titanium white, ultramarine blue, sap green, cad. yellow light, raw umber

Barns of Michigan: Old Gray Barn

I love to paint old barns. They have so much character. The older, the better. I am starting a “Barns of Michigan” series of paintings, and this is # 3 in the series, an old gray barn in the upper peninsula.

an oil painting of an old gray barn in Michigan's upper peninsula

Barns of Michigan: Old Gray Barn, oil 16 X 20 inches

The palette for this painting was ultramarine and cobalt blue, titanium white, lamp black, sap green, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cad. yellow med., cad yellow light, cad red light. I really liked the gray light of the hazy day, and tried to emphasize this in the painting.

Photo reference for the barn was a photo by Kathy Gaspar, used with her permission.

Moose: Another Christmas Painting

In my last post, I mentioned that my other good friend wanted a painting of a moose. Why? Because her house is literally FILLED with moose things: moose towels, cups, figurines, coasters, etc., she is just nuts about them. So, when I gave her a gift certificate for a painting, she said, “A moose! That’s what I want!”  Okay, I have never painted a moose before. I have no photos that I have taken of a moose myself, because…I have yet to see one here in the woods where I live. So, I went back to WetCanvas, and found a great reference photo by StalkingtheDawn there, and used it, with a photo I have of the woods here as background.

Here’s how it looks:

Oil painting of a moose in the woods, based upon a reference photo by stalksthedawn on WetCanvas

Painting of a moose, oils, 16 X 20

So,  photo reference is stalkingthedawn on Wet Canvas (for the moose), and my own back yard (photo shown below) for the background. This is the nice part of living in the woods: lots of trees, etc.

photo of woods in Michigan

picture of the woods in my back yard

Okay, after this I will go back to painting from my own photos, or life (I’m actually painting a bouquet of flowers from life, when it’s more done I’ll share it here). Plus, my own bird and barn pics, from my own photos. But it was fun trying to figure out how to paint these beautiful animals.