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Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Progress - The Red Barn at Outlook Farm


About 2 months ago, I received an email from a reader requesting a commissioned painting of the Red Barn at Outlook Farm for her sister who was getting married there in the coming months.  I have to say, nothing makes me happier than to get a commission for a painting that I love to do - and you know me and barns.  

Since that first contact, I sought out the best possible reference image, and although it isn't the best, it is enough to create a beautiful painting.  I thought I would take this opportunity to show you how I progress through paintings like this.  I do things a little differently now and then.   So let's get started!


I started by stretching my own canvas onto 30x40 inch stretcher bars.  Then I primed the canvas with gesso. I sanded the gessoed canvas after it dried, cleaned it off with a damp rag, then gessoed again, this time painting brushstrokes in the opposite direction from the first time.  After the second layer of gesso dried, I lightly sanded the surface of the canvas, wiped it off with a damp cloth, dried it with a hairdryer, and sketched out my scene with charcoal.  After wiping off parts of my sketch 137 times, I finally had one I thought I could work with.  The principle at this stage is just to have down the basic shapes and not worry about details.


As you can see from the first image, I painted in the sky.  I work from "back to front" and from "thin to fat." Back to front means working from objects that are considered "behind" the subject and working to the front.  Thin to fat means that the first layer of oil paint I put down on canvas is thinned with mineral spirits and the flow of the paint is improved with Artist's medium.  I also put the down the darkest values and/or basic color of the object or shape first.  This will be my underpainting.  Here, I've just placed the trees under-tone down on the canvas.


Moving right along, I placed a mid-value down for the surrounding landscape.


This area of the landscape is like a hay field.


This area is going to be tall grass.


This area of blue is going to be a pond.


Here, I've now painted in the barn a bit, although I may make a change to the building on the right.  I don't like it behind the Red Barn and would prefer, I think, to make it look as though it is attached to the side of the Red Barn.  I have added an awning to one side of the added side building too.  These were not pictured in the original reference, but instead a big white tent was pictured and she did not want the white tent.  So, I am using artistic license to create a nice, balanced scene.

That's it so far!  Tomorrow I will be moving on to thicker paint, expressive brushstrokes, use of the palette knife (I like to use the palette knife in my paintings as it adds texture) and I will be adding a lot more detail to the painting as well.  You won't recognize it when it's finished.  

Hope you enjoyed this day of painting!  




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