Cloudy Sky: #2

Today I tried painting that barn that’s in my memory again. There are some things that worked better here than in the first one, and some that didn’t work out. I feel better prepared now for number 3.

Here is the sketch I made before painting this one. I really tried to increase the visual weight of the nearby vegetation, hoping it would frame the composition better, and push the barn back.

I also wanted to use a streak of white in the water to give a sheen on the surface, and give a diagonal line pointing to the barn.

Next I painted the sky. I used a lot of layers of suuccessively darker values greys (a mix of blues and browns.) At first this was mostly just water with only a hint of pigment. When I was reaching into the palette for more concentrated pigments I started adding some yellows and purples to add more character to the sky. I wanted this sky to recede a bit more than my last painting, and I think I succeeded in that.

I then waited for it to nearly completely dry before I painted the trees at the horizon by dropping clean water into the nearly dry paper, hoping for some cauliflowers that would read as trees. This didn’t really work, I think because I was too tentative.

The grass is a very small part of the painting, as is the barn, but I took my time on these, painting with a tiny tiny brush. The barn came out nicely I think, and preserving whites for the nearer vegetation when I painted the grass ended up being a smart move.

I continued layering pigment in for the grass using a combination of earth tones. I also started singing the pond with a light grey… I clearly don’t have a plan for the water, and it shows at the end.

As I started painting the nearer shore, and vegetation I realized how defined the barn is. The barn in my first painting was much simpler, and read as further away as a result. The detail in this one brings it closer, which I actually don’t like.

I didn’t take any progress photos of the nearer vegetation or the rock because I was guessing as I went on exactly how I wanted to paint those things. In the end, I love the rock, and I love the idea behind the cattails, but the grass is too busy. The pond doesn’t read as a pond still, and the reflections are not what I want. For the cattails, I just laid my brush down on the paper to get the shape, then used my palette knife to flick the tip out. If I do this more quickly next time, I think it will work better.

In the next one, I’m going to simplify the sky even more, and treat the barn as a two shapes, like I did in the first one. I’ll try to be less reserved with the cauliflower idea for trees at the horizon, and I’ll paint the near grasses as a single shape before adding the cattails. I also completely forgot to add the phragmites (common reed) when I went to paint, so maybe I’ll add them next time. They are all over the place here in Ohio, so I want to include them, but they are an invasive species so I sort of hate them at the same time.

Anyway – good job on the rock. Way to go me!


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