After taking a class from Gary Eckhart in March 2016, I painted a barn scene that I was pretty proud of with less than 6 months painting under my belt!
My dear friend Serena’s farm is right across the street from this barn I painted. Serena loved the painting and asked if I could paint her farm.
I said, “sure!”
Then I stopped by to take some reference photos and realized the project was far, far beyond my capabilities.
Unlike the barn picture, the farm scene was HUGE! There are many buildings, trees and…animals. I hadn’t learned how to paint animals yet! (Really, there was VERY LITTLE I was qualified to paint at that point, and still today!)
But, my word is my bond and I had to keep my promise to Serena. So, I spent most of the summer painting variations on her farm.
It turned out to be a GREAT project. You learn very little painting something once and then moving on. In the end, I drew and painted that farm more times than I could count. It gave me a chance to practice technique, composition and creativity.
Here was my first attempt:
I still really like this painting. But, there were several problems with it. It was very small and it lacked several components that tell the story of the farm such as the house and the sheep.
Here is #2. I added the sheep (I still didn’t know how to paint animals so I kept them abstract). I added details to the barn that made it more recognizable. And, although you can’t see the mountains from this angle in real life, I added them because they are an important part of the Stowell Farm story.
In attempt #3, I added the house and sunflowers which started blooming as I was working on this iteration. The sunflowers acknowledged all of the amazing work the Seth did clearing their land of rocks and reclaiming it as pasture land.
Picture #4 was really worked over! My teacher, Lisa Beach, used this as an opportunity to teach me about composition. I had a picture with LOTS going on – the barn, the house, the mountains, the sheep, the flowers. Lisa asked what I REALLY wanted to say in the picture. If I had to strip away everything else, I wanted the barn to be the loan survivor. You can see that I did a lot of washing of this painting. It certainly isn’t ready for primetime! But, you can also see that the washing helped create ONE focal point for the picture.
Picture #?? I call revenge of the trees. It looks like they are going to engulf the house and barn. For whatever reason I decided to try some sponging technique on the trees as well. I didn’t date the back of the picture so I am not sure where it belongs in the sequence, but it doesn’t belong on the wall for sure!
#6 the Penultimate Painting. This would have been the final painting had I not made the house look so short. Unfortunately there just wasn’t a way to right this wrong. But, I was happy with the colors, shadows, composition. The barn was the focal point and while the sunflowers were a bit overwhelming, cropping a couple of inches off the bottom of the painting would have helped minimize their distraction. Lisa helped me set the trees behind the house by suggesting they needed to be darker.
The final painting. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of this painting before I framed it. Somehow the barn ended up in the middle of the painting which isn’t ideal, but I am happy with this final version.
It will be fun to come back to this subject in a few years and see what I am able to do. Will it look similar? Will my style have changed?
- A LOT can be learned from reworking a painting.
- A LOT can be learned from doing several paintings of the same subject.
- ALWAYS put a date in pencil on the back of your paintings.