This is the first painting after a series of Plein Air and at-home studies of a dairy farm on Route 21 near New Philadelphia, Ohio.

The first post is here.

The second is here.


I decided to try another sketch of the composition last night, in order to try to simplify the composition a bit more. In that sketch, I played around with changing the posture of the figure.

Today, I tried the sketch in pen, which helps me a bit with values because it’s harder to fix mistakes. Sketching in pen is more like paint because I can’t erase. So, if I’m able to create a successful sketch in pen, I’m more confident in my ability to paint it.

During this sketch, I decided to have the figure rest at a pole. With a bag. And a barrel.

Once the sketches were done, I drew it out on paper. I wish I hadn’t drawn it so tightly in the background, or that I had completely left trees and clouds out of the sketch, because I couldn’t erase them. Oh well.

Then I masked off some highlights, and let it dry (on its own – no hair dryer.)


I then laid in the initial washes. I wanted the structure on the left to be darker, which meant the trees needed to be lighter, which meant the sky could be darker in the top left corner. So, that’s how I painted it.

I left the buildings alone, and the pole that the figure is resting against. On second thought – I should not have done this. I should have stopped the sky by fading to clean paper at the horizon. Then, I should have added trees, also fading to clean paper at the horizon. Then I should have let that dry and painted the structures in. Once that was all done, I should have moved on to the foreground.

Also should have just painted over where the pole would be. Skipping it forced me to paint the pole more carefully – and it would have been better as a single confident stroke.

I do like how the grass came out, I think that value structure works well.

I also like the sky. It was a good move to have the darker sky at the left.

I don’t like the hay. I overdid it with the masking fluid. (AGAIN.)

Distant Buildings

I used a mixture of Quin Red, Cerulean Blue, Quin Gold, and Bloodstone to create a cool neutral. I painted all the distant shapes as one color with this mixture. I decided to mix the grey instead of just using moonglow, even though the color I ended up with was pretty similar to moon glow, because I wanted it to break as it dried. Once the wash was down, I waited a few minutes, and then hit it with a spray bottle to break it up a bit. This worked as I had intended. Though, I wish I hadn’t wetted the horizon first – it doesn’t look misty so much as just like I was lazy. I wanted it to feel like a very humid day at the horizon – oh well.

Another thing to note: because the structures are cool neutral, and the trees are a warm neutral, it feels like the structure is behind the trees, when the opposite is true. Next time I should use the same color for all of it, and darken values by using more of that same color to add depth to the background.

Then, I painted the barrel and the bag – both of which tubes out pretty good.

Cattle Pen

I then painted the cattle pen. I needed it to be fairly dark. So I used a black made from Raw Umber, Indie Blue, Quin Gold, and Quin Purple. I used the same color to paint the dark patches on the cows. Then I used Bloodstone to paint the pole – which nearly ruins everything. Dang it.

For the figure I wanted a white shirt, so I just used some cerulean for shadows, and made a khaki from yellow ochre and Ultramarine Blue. The boots were painted with the black from the cattle pen.

Final Details

When that was done I added some final details here and there. I painted a greenish shadow under the figure. And I painted violet on the white parts of the cows that needed to be in shadow. I added a few birds, and some more rust on the structures – which ended up looking like sewage on this photo – (it’s more orange at my desk.)

Then I added some darker trees, and used the black color I made earlier to scribble in some lines in the hay. Next time, the hay should be done in more disconnected washes. I should rely on edges in each wash to create some of the texture.

When all was said and done, I didn’t use any white – so I’m at least proud of that.

There are things I like (the cows, the bag, the canister in the distance…), and things I hate (the pole, the sewage, the over-masked hay…), and things I want to do differently next time:

Move the structures to the left, so they aren’t in the middle.?

Increase the haze effect by reducing to bare paper.

Remove the sewage leak.

Darken some birds.

I’d love any additional constructive criticism in the comments if you have time.