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Written by Gregory Conley
Courtesy of


#1 1/2" (381mm) Flat Winsor & Newton Series 965 1"
Grumbacher Aquarelle Flat Red Sable
#12 Winsor & Newton Series 7 Red Sable
#10 Winsor & Newton Series 820 Red Sable
#6 Grumbacher Watercolor Classic Red Sable
#4 Round Red Sable Paints

Sap Green, Hooker's Green Dark, Pthalocyanine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber

Spiral Pad (11" x 14") Canson #140 cold pressed

#2 Pencil
Kneaded Erasers
Palette - Your choice. Mine is an old Robert E. Wood model.
Water container (2) and water
Hair dryer (optional)

Photo or Sketch large enough for you to see reasonably well.
Step One: Do the work

Although not necessary, usually a light drawing is done to block in the shapes and arrange the composition. NOTE: For a bit of fun and challenge, skip the drawing and start painting right away. It's a great visual skill builder, especially when it turns out well.
Step Two: First Washes

Using ly 1 1/2" flat brush I dampened the sky area of the paper, taking care to cut in the edges of the barn correctly. I used a mix of cerulean and cobalt blue for the initial wash. I made a darker mix of burnt umber and cobalt and darkened the sky towards the lower left. I carried the same tone to a few foliage areas in the foreground. I also took a 1/2" flat brush with the cobalt/cerulean mix plus some dioxazine purple, squeezed it fairly dry and pulled texture into the face and sides of the barn.
Step Three: Laying the groundwork

Using washes of sap green, hooker's green dark, raw sienna and burnt umber I flowed on the fields. I tried to darken and gray down the background hills and woodsy areas.
Step Four: A lot has happened...

...since the last picture. I became so frustrated I forgot to take an intermediate picture. I've added trees using hooker's green dark and burnt sienna. I tried to do the background bare trees. The intriguing angle of the cast shadow was important to the composition and drama of this barn so I took some time getting the color and shape right. I then added a few building details to the rest of the barn using a #4 round sable.

Other fore/mid-ground details were built up, such as the fence to the right and the drainage trough in the foreground. You'll also notice a new building to the right of the barn (see steps 8-10 for how I did this)
Step Five: Building the details

Using a combination of pthalocyanine blue, cobalt blue and burnt umber, I added the windows and open door details as well as picking out shadows on the rough surfaces. I added the lightning rods with the same mixture.
Step Six: Working the Foreground

The painting was looking too cool with all the blue in the shadows of the barn so I bumped up the warmth of the surrounding fields using raw sienna, cadmium orange and sap green. I added indications of grass and a rolling hill in the foreground plane, breaking it up and adding interest.
Step Seven: Final Touches

Using a dark mixing of pthalocyanine blue and burnt umber and my 1/2" flat brush I added the texture of bare branches against the sky and over that nasty area to the right of the barn that gave me trouble. I called it done at this point!
Step Eight: What happened back there?

In step 3.5 I painted the woods to the right of the barn...but I drew them badly. I wasn't paying attention and by the time I realized I needed another element in that area the paint was down. I used a stiff #6 nylon acrylic brush and a kleenex and lifted the paint with clear water and daubing.
Step Nine: A little patchwork...

With a blend of alizarin crimson, burnt umber, cadmium orange, and cobalt blue I quickly plugged a little red building to hide behind the trees. Using some of my sap green mixture I darkened the hill behind the building. I then added some blue to the same brown mixture I used for the branches and re-painted the trunks and branches over the brand new building. I added bits of a fence around the bottom using a warm gray cobalt/umber mix of paint.
Step Ten: The final patch...

When I added the far-tree texture most remnants of my lapses in judgement had been obliterated...close enough!
Step Eleven: Finished Painting!

Another one bites the dust.