Saturday, December 19, 2009


To finish off the painting, I added a few more washes to selective areas darkening some of the woodwork especially at the bottom where the light would be at its weakest. A number of details here and there were tightened up mostly around the cracks in the boards and more texture added to them along with woodgrain without overdoing it. All the framework of the barn featured rough-cut wood with the saw marks still to be seen so this was added being careful not to make this too obvious. I also darkened the window frames slightly noting a certain delicacy to them that I especially like. Finally I added the cobwebs and other details such as the few random bits of straw at the bottom.
To me the wonder of an image such as this is simply the way that the light plays along the main upright and how it in turn, reflects around the rest of the painting. It's a simple thing really but to me very powerful and brings me back again and again to images such as this. The painting is a bit dark here but I feel still captures what I had set out to. This watercolor is 22" X 15".

Thursday, December 17, 2009


At this point I feel that I'm getting closer to the depth and tonal values that I want for the painting. I still have to adjust some areas but I'm happy that the work is progressing as I had hoped. There is still a lot of work to do around the window itself as obviously this is the focal point of the painting and most of the smaller details will be found here. I used quite a bit of dry-brush technique to get most of the textures of the old and weathered wood but the rest were formed naturally as I laid in wash after wash. Since the window panes had years of dirt and dust on them, there was very little of the outside landscape to be seen - perhaps just a hint of the overhang from outside but at this stage, I hadn't made a decision weather to include this or not.


After quite a few more rounds of washes (mostly alternating between my darker brown mix mentioned earlier and Raw Sienna), the general shapes and form of the painting are beginning to emerge. I'm excited to note that the highlight on the right of the window is beginning to work in the way that I intended. At this point, I'm working all over the painting and not worrying about any of the finer details as these will all come later. It's the general tones of the interior walls that are important right now and I'm still deciding exactly how dark I want to go. Interestingly, for a change I worked on a sheet of Whatman which was slightly yellow unlike the more brighter white of Arches watercolor paper that I usually use - somehow the yellowish-white of the paper seemed just right for the bright but diffuse light coming through the window panes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


After the paper had dried bone hard, I began laying in washes. First on were layers of Yellow Ochre and when my tube of that had run out, Raw Sienna. Unfortunately Windsor and Newton have changed the formula of this color (which used to be one of my favorites) and have added some opaque white along with what seems orange. This has not made me happy! Until I can find a purer version of this color from another manufacturer, I'll finish out the tube that I have. Anyway, when all that had dried, I began laying in darker washes of Burnt Umber mixed with a little Sepia. I was careful to paint around my lightest lights and just kept adding more washes after each one had dried. All was looking good so far and felt that something good could come out of this painting.


Although travel has taken me to quite a few places recently and I have seen many landscapes that I have wanted to paint, somehow none of this has resulted in any new paintings - at least nothing that I want to show here. I have been working on things, finishing off a misty morning painting that I started some time ago along with a study or two, just nothing that I'm too excited about. I'm not sure why this is but lately when faced with a blank canvas on my easel, nothing seems to happen. Usually I paint every day so it is rare to go for so long without completing something. Fortunately I now seem to have left all this behind. Let me explain.
When I was staying with clients recently, they mentioned owning a barn not too far from where I live and gave me permission to visit whenever I wanted - which I quickly did! The first visit was just to scout the place out. Only half an hour away, it is not a large place and not really a working farm as such that there are no farm implements or machinery there (although the fields are tilled each year). Still there is a large barn, a silo and some out-buildings (where machinery used to be stored) along with a charming house. After that visit I completed a medium sized oil of a view into one of the buildings trying for morning sun and shadow. At first I was pleased with it but then after awhile very much less so! Now it is turned against the studio wall and will remain like that for at least a month!
On my second visit I took my watercolors and sketchbook. This time I concentrated on the lower section under the main barn and spent most of my time inside looking at the structure and windows planning paintings in relation to the darker interior and the winter light that filters in. After returning home, I started a large watercolor. The pencil underdrawing shown above was done quite roughly just making sure that my general shapes and perspective was correct. I didn't worry too much as some of the boards had cracked and settled so most of the accurate work was done around the window and window frames. Then the paper was stretched and stapled to a board to dry.