View Full Version : Weathered Barn

10-05-2005, 09:17 AM

My first 'Landscape' post.

An 8" x 10" oil on a prepared plywood panel. I found a great photo in the WC photo archive file (in the barns category). I pretty much copied the barn but put in the rest from my imagination.

I'm fairly new to painting and I realise that everything I do turns out looking like one of those awful Chinese factory art paintings that they sell in the malls. That's what happens when you try to teach yourself, but at least, I'm working on it!

Incidently, if you haven't made use of the photo file, check it out! It's wonderful. I've spent hours this summer, riding all over creation trying to find decent subjects to photograph when there is this huge file right under my nose.


I've decided to live forever ... so far, so good!

10-05-2005, 12:01 PM

You are being a little hard on yourself (and the art that sells in malls). I think this is very nice. Really nice job on the barn. You should try to post a larger image so we can get a better look.

10-06-2005, 09:05 AM
Hey Dave!

This is pretty nice :) And yes, don't be too hard on yourself since you've already said you're a beginner. The drawing is good and your use of color is good.

I think what you are seeing that's reminiscent of the "mall paintings" is the flat light (no strong shadows/values), and perhaps the composition (the centering of the barn on the canvas).

Architecture really looks best with strong shadows and/or distinctive lighting IMO (sunrise, sunset, moody days) - if you'll notice, "mall paintings" tend to have an all-over even lighting, rather than a strong directional light source that creates shadows. Shadows help to create value changes and contrast, which helps to create stronger, more interesting paintings.

Compositionally, you cold move the barn higher or lower in the composition to make the painting less "centered" - this would have the effect of either strengthening the sky or the foreground. There are other options too...you could also leave the barn centered, and just add a few more interesting elements to the foreground (fenceposts, tractors, farm equipment, etc), to bring more attention to the lower part of the painting.

Painting is a learning process, forever. You're off to a great start with this one :)


10-06-2005, 10:20 AM
Thanks, Nancy, for taking the time to pass on the advice. All of your points are well taken.

I think like most beginers, I tend to get hung up on the representation of the subject rather than the overall mood of the picture. I'm hoping that will develop naturally after I gain more confidence in my ability to handle the paint.

I'm very keen on architectural subjects and I'm sure you'll see more of an improvement
with future posts.

Oh, and thanks BTW. My reference to the 'mall paintings' was in regard to the $39.95 variety. I wasn't knocking all mall paintings ... I should be so lucky as to be able to paint like some of the artists.

Regards, Dave

10-07-2005, 03:10 PM
First I want to say that your "application of paint" is better than most here. Your colors are bright, you have nice tonal range, and there seems to be no perspective errors.

Now my comment on the painting as a whole. Let me some it up this way it lacks a "story." By that I mean a reason for someone to really enjoy having it. So I suggest the following.

Do a second painting, this time place it in a farm setting, show the road up to the barn, some farm equipment, perhaps a farmer leading a cow, some rusty metal, hay spilling out of a loft window, etc etc. Use your immagination and pick a time of day for your painting, the weather conditions prevailing, the time of day, (night scene perhaps), the sky conditions, etc.

Give us, the viewing public a reason, to love your work.

In otherwords Plan your work before you ever touch a brush.


10-07-2005, 11:11 PM
I think your to hard on yourself you have natural ability this is a very nice paintng. I like the detail on the barn you rendered it very well and your use of color is very good, I think for a new painter your already advanced in many ways.

10-07-2005, 11:15 PM
I agree! The reference library is awesome! I've found hundreds of potential paintings within those files!

Your painting is wonderful!

10-08-2005, 12:21 PM
Thanks, Miles ... I know you're right, but, 'a farmer leading a cow' ... you must be joking. I'm not ready for that yet.

And thanks Jared and Christi. The compliments are really appreciated. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way.


10-08-2005, 12:43 PM
Dave I think your painting is well done and the barn looks super. You've been given some good advice here by people who are very good at their own art and I'm also trying to absorb what they have to say. I looked at Nancy's web site she has some lovely barn scenes there that are very worthwhile looking at.
I think you do so very well for a new painter.

10-08-2005, 02:57 PM
Thanks Purple ... and you're right, Nancy does have some nice barn paintings. I like her loose style. Something I'm trying to do. I'm working on a couple more barn paintings right now which hopefuly, will look more like Nancy's.

Incidently, after three barn paintings, is it too early to say I'm into my 'barn period' ?


10-13-2005, 12:59 PM

Very nicely done!!!

Have you learned about the Golden Mean yet? Also called the rule of thirds? Most people feel that if a the subject is centered in the painting, it makes the painting look static, or uninteresting. To place the subject on one of the thirds can make the painting more interesting. There are two ways of locating the best spot for the subject. 1) Simply divide the canvas into three equal sections, both top and bottom You should have four lines. Where they intersect is the considered the best location for the main subject. 2) Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Say from the top left to the bottom right. Then draw a perpendicular line from that line to the upper right corner, and another from that line to the bottom left corner. Where the lines intersect is considered the best location for the subject. You could of course draw the first line from the bottom left to the top right. Balance is important, so you can off set the weight of the barn with a large tree on the other side of the painting. It could even frame the barn a little to help draw the viewers attention to the barn.

Something you could do for a lead in, is to have the fence running more from a corner up to the barn. Or a road beside the fence. Lots of little things that can help improve a composition.

Hope this helps a little, you're doing GREAT so far,

10-13-2005, 02:13 PM

You're in your "Barn Period" :)

And thank you for the compliments on my "style" - I really didn't know I HAD one - I just paint the way that feels comfortable to me. I'm the quintessential impatient painter, so perhaps that's what you see :)

Myles hit the nail squarely on the head - the "story" of the painting, or its reason for being. I have some absolutely awesome barn photos, but these are barns sitting out in the middle of the field with nothing else going on. It's a slow road (for me) putting the story together and making a painting out of these pics. Sometimes I'll add sheep or cows, a tractor, a truck, etc. This (to me) is really the toughest thing in painting :) so go easy on yourself.

I know a ton of people here LOVE the Image Library, but I really find it difficult, if not impossible, to paint from others' reference photos. I need to have that connection to a subject that I can only get from being there. Just my opinion :)

Most importantly, enjoy the process of painting and learning...


10-13-2005, 07:14 PM
Thanks, Don. I wasn't aware of the intersecting line method you describe. I had heard that a similar method is used by portrait painters for locating the head on a canvas, but I didn't realize a similar formula could work for other subjects on rectangular canvases. That's very interesting ... I'm going to use your advice on my next painting and try it.

And Nancy, thanks for your help too. That's what's so great about WC ... all the experienced painters are so willing to share their knowledge and help the less experienced, like me. I've spent a great deal of time going back over all the old posts on several different forums ... looking and learning. This really is wonderful place for neophyte painters to learn. (Myles is remarkable. I've followed his posts on several forums)

And yes, you do have a 'style' ... it's very attractive. (and your line of frames is great, too).


When you come to a fork in the road ... take it!

10-15-2005, 10:16 PM
I copied this from a post I made to someone else but the gist of the message holds true no matter what you are painting in a landscape. I hope it helps...and oh yes if you cant paint a farmer leading a cow why not try a cow leading a farmer?


Making a "realistic" landscape requires a good deal of preperation and mental analysis. I will list some of the things you should consider (AND WRITE DOWN YOUR ANSWERS ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED WHAT YOUR ANSWERS ARE). Here are some (not all) the things you should consider before you even touch the canvas.

List: Time of day, weather conditions, amount of moisture in the air, cloud cover, position of the sun, center of interest, value range (how dark is your darkest dark, how light is your lightest spot), can you put your center of interest at one of the 4 preferred points on the canvas, does your painting have a story to tell and if so what will you need to tell it, what season of the year is it, what are the predominant colors, what compositional format have you chosen and WHY! How far away is your center of interest, your far off points of view, your closeups if any. What "key" do you intend to paint it. What style do you plan to use, (realistic, impressonistic, monotone, etc).
What do I plan to show in the painting, what will I leave out and why, what will I add and why. What mood do I want to convey.

Now a couple of real biggies: Once you have the answer to all that WRITTEN DOWN, ask these two questions, Do I have at this time the skill level to make a credible painting with the above conditions? The second question is why do I want to paint it instead of something else?

If your working from a photo you should know that ALL PHOTOS LIE!!! The photographic process has two big limitations....they are...the value and hue range of the print and film, and the other is the "flattening" of the values and colors do to the camera setting exposure on the major light source and therefore not giving the right attention to the darker areas (shadows and half tones).

That is why paintings can be more "real" than any photo because we can put in all the values and hues while a camera averages them out and snapshots are the worst of all. So why use photos, because they pin down the location and shape of objects. To this add your notes on the true colors present as you observe them....or artistically you want them to be. Never copy a photograph just use it as a guide...then IMPROVE ON IT! Take out the tree that gets in the way, add the rock that was not there, etc.

Now about "greying." Greying is not mixing black and white paint and smearing the various shades. Greying in oil paintings is more often adding the reciprocal of the hue you plan to use to "grey" it. In otherwords you are painting a "greyed" shade rather than a tube color. You do this because...the most prevalent color in nature is grey! Very seldom do you see pure hue...(fire engine red, pure yellow, deep dark blue, or emerald green.) Your more likely to run into orange and rust and tan, and light blue, and blue-green, gray-green, tourqoise, etc.

So my friend, I will not give you "mixes" to make a mountain because if I did I would be painting "my mountain" (as I see it in my mind) and not your mountain. What I want you to do on your mountain is decide again about the weather, the sun, the time of day the distance from you, and then decide how much atmospheric absorbtion was between you and the moutain and apply that much blue to your grey (cerulian works well here) and then I want you to think how bright the brightest spots on the mountain were and add yellow and maybe orange or pink to them and then work on the shadows, how dark, were their trees etc in them then add a touch of green to the shadows, and violet and perhaps some paynes grey. What shape were the shadows, depends on what they are shadowing doesnt it? Is the mountain obscured with clouds or fog, then paint that...was the mountain made of granite or was it volcanic material....the latter is red and red violet of course greyed for distance. Tough to remember all this isnt it....thats why you write down your plan so you can get back to it.

That's enough school for today...write if you need more help.