Monday, October 26, 2015

Barn - Townsend, TN

The painting above is a watercolor of an old barn we discovered by accident when we turned down a road in Townsend, TN trying to locate a trailhead for a hike.  I always have my phone camera with me which helps me capture all sorts of photos for painting.  Once back in the studio, I can sketch my painting and confirm colors by looking at the photo. 

This painting takes place in late summer/early fall and shows just the start of leaves changing color. The bright colors of fall along with some still green trees make for a great contrast of the old wood of the barn.  The rusty roof pulls in the orange in the few trees that have changed color.

Let’s get started on this painting. 

Materials Needed:

140# Watercolor paper – I use Arches
Masking fluid
#12 round brush
Flat brush
Liner brush

Watercolor Paint:
Payne’s Gray
Sap Green
Windsor Blue
Yellow Ochre
Van Dyke Brown
Burnt Sienna

Sketch the scene on your paper which has been taped to a board.   We will be executing this painting, as with most watercolors, by starting with the background and working forward and lighter building into darker  – wet on wet.  I painted this watercolor in this order:

·        Background foliage and sky
·        Tree trunks/branches
·        Barn
·        Foreground grass and dirt road
·        Fencing

I masked off the tree trucks and a few of the limbs with masking fluid.  I wanted to be able to make these stand out in the background among the foliage.

 Note:  I did not feel it necessary to mask off the barn or roof.  Watercolor will only flow into areas where it is wet.  I simply did not wet that area when I applied my water to the background.

Painting the sky and background foliage:
After the masking fluid has dried, wet the top portion of your paper down to the horizon (working around the barn).  Using a pale wash of Windsor blue, paint in your sky using a flat brush and painting all the way down to the horizon.    While this is still wet create areas of tree shapes with lighter colors in the background building into darker shades in the foreground using a round brush and all the colors you would like for trees and mountains.   Let the colors blend and merge together to create some great colors and shapes.    Allow to dry.

Painting the tree trunks and branches:
Remove the masking from the tree trunks and branches.  Wet the spaces with clean water and while still wet, drop in a mixture of Payne's Gray and VanDyke Brown with just a touch of Ultramarine in darker areas.    Allow to dry.  Using the same colors used for the tree trunks, add a few darker branches and small trunks in the tree area. 

Painting the Barn:
I painted the barn in stages starting with the roof first.  I love painting rusty roofs and watercolor paints are perfect for this.  Watercolors almost paint rust for you!  Wet the roof area and drop in Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine.  Let these colors blend, leaving some areas only Burnt Sienna.  Allow to dry. 

Painting the Wood sides of the barn:
Wet the sides of the barn with clean water and drop in a wash of Payne's Gray and yellow ochre allowing the colors to mingle.  Deepen the gray in the shadow of the roof.  Allow to dry.  Paint the open door and window areas with a wash of Vandyke Brown mixed with Payne's Gray.  Allow to dry.  Using a liner brush, paint in some lines to indicate the boards.   Allow to dry and dry brush in additional lines to indicate the grain in the wood.  Do not make this too detailed. 

Painting the foreground grass and dirt road:
Using the same colors used in the trees, paint a light wash – wet on wet in the grassy areas.  While the grass is still wet, drop in VanDyke brown at the base of the barn and pull up the color onto the barn sides for tall dried grasses. 

 The road is painted wet on wet with a wash of Payne's Gray and Van Dyke brown.  When the wash dries, spatter some of the same color paint on the road.  Leave some of the areas lighter for tire tracks. 

 Allow the road and the grassy areas to dry.

Painting the fencing:
Paint the fence posts, wet on wet, and drop in VanDyke brown, Payne's Gray and Ultramarine in random places on the fence posts.  Allow to dry.  Using a liner brush and a mix of Payne's Gray and Ultramarine, paint the barbed wire of the fence.  Do not paint straight lines.    Allow to dry. 

 Finishing touches:
Using a box cutter, scratch in some highlights on the fence wire, barn sides, roof and trees!

Congratulations!  Don’t forget to sign your name!

Happy Painting!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015



There is just something relaxing to walk barefoot on the beach…..the warmth of the sand and its smooth texture underfoot,  the rush of the wind, the spray of the waves, the scent of the ocean - salty, fishy and fresh, the sound of the waves and the seagulls mixed in with laughter of children at play……


So, if we can’t be there at least we can capture that moment on canvas!   


Since this painting shows only a person from mid-thigh down, it is easy for everyone to project themselves into the painting as the one walking on the beach and experiencing all the sensations that image evokes.  


The painting above is an acrylic on canvas using primarily a palette of blues and greens.  


Materials needed:

Canvas – I used a 16 x 20 stretched canvas.  


Flat Brush
Palette Knife
Round brush

Acrylic paints:  A basic set of acrylic paints which may include the following colors:

Hookers Green
Brunt Umber
Mars Black
Titanium White
Cadmium Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Ultramarine Blue
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue
Raw Sienna
Alizarin Crimson


Note:  The paint list is large; however, this can be decreased by purchasing “flesh tint” for the legs and feet.  Also, you may want to limit the shades of colors used in the water and the jeans.    This painting can be achieved with a basic set of acrylic paints.  


How to make flesh tint:  

Mixing the colors to make flesh tint may seem challenging; however, it can easily be accomplished by mixing the following primary colors:


The various shades can be adjusted by adding white and/or increasing/decreasing the amount of one of the other primary colors to perfect the tone you would like.  


A word of caution:  Do not use black to deepen the skin tone; it can add a greenish tint to the color.


Painting Instructions:

Sketch the drawing on the canvas with minimal details.  You will only need the sand/ocean horizon line and the shape of the knees, legs and feet.  The details will be painted in after the basic background has been painted in.  


Background:  Ocean/Waves and Beach


Starting at the top of the painting with the deepest of your blue tones, work down the painting mixing and blending the various shades and colors of blue from deepest at the top to lightest at the shoreline.  Mix green into the water at the top third of the painting, but let the blue show through.  Do not paint in a straight line across, but vary the line to indicate the shape of the wave and the movement of the water.    I used a flat brush to put down the basic coat of paint and worked back in with a round brush swirling the paint to give movement.  Add touches of white paint to show wave breaks or ”white tops.”



Prepare a mix of paint for the sand using raw sienna mixed with white and a touch of yellow.  Vary the intensity of the color by increasing and decreasing the amount of white.  Where the sand and beach meet, swirl in white paint with a round brush where the waves hit the shore.


I allowed the background to dry somewhat so that then I painted the main part of the painting, I was not worried about smearing this paint into the other parts of the painting.  



The jeans can be any “wash” of denim you would like.  I used a darker denim to contrast and stand out from the ocean.  However, depending on how dark your ocean may be a light wash might be what is needed.  Base your denim shade on what shade your ocean turned out.    


Using a flat brush lay down your basic jean color working lighter and darker shades of the same color into create highlights, creases and wrinkles as well as the rolled up cuff.  Remember the rolled up cuff of the jean leg will be slight lighter than the outside of the pant leg.  


Legs and Feet:

Using your flesh tones either mixes or purchased paint, put in a base coat using a flat brush and work in darker and lighter shades of that tone to show shadows and highlights.  Remember this does not have to be details, create a feeling of movement – you are not painting every toe.  


Finishing Details:

Deepen the areas of sand around the feet using a flat brush and pulling the paint from deepest near the foot to lighter as it moves out in a horizontal line.    Add lighter and darker sand tones as well as white on the sand for highlights and shadows.  


Look over the rest of your painting and add highlight or touches of color here and there as needed.


Congratulations!  Sign your name; your painting is complete.  Now look at the painting and hear the sound of the waves and feel the sand under your feet…………………


Happy Painting!