I’ve been getting frustrated with a lack of progress again. And this time it’s because I can’t seem to get the effects I want. I’m trying to emulate other painters because I admire their work – and I never get the same kind of results.

I know, I know – paint the way you feel comfortable. Who cares what Joseph Zbukvic’s style is, make your own style… etcetera. But, I’ll be honest, I’m learning. I don’t have a style, because I haven’t had time to explore enough to come up with one. I’m sure that as I continue, something will emerge – but right now I’m still so focused on the ten thousand fundamentals that I can’t begin to think about the flair that I should sprinkle on top.

So, today I decided – I’m not getting the results I want by following the examples… I’m just going to try to go it on my own. I’m not painting this because I want it to look like so-and-so’s work, I’m not trying to follow such-and-such method. I’m just going to take the painting apart, and paint it piece by piece. See what we get.


I decided to sketch some of the more important lines very heavily because I tend to lost the sketch as I paint. Unfortunately, in this instance I went very slowly and meticulously – so I never lost the sketch, which meant I had really dark pencil lines that I didn’t want. Occasionally, I had to paint over them to hide them, which is a bad idea. If I’m painting for any reason other than I think there should be pigment there, then I’m doing it wrong. If I’m painting in an attempt to cover something up – then I’m probably going to make a mess of things.


The sky was simple, and easy. I wanted it to sit back, and not draw attention – but I didn’t want it to be dull either. So, I wetted the whole sky with clean water, being careful to not wet the building (including the little ball above the faux belfry.) Then I painted a M3w UM Blue and Phthalo Blue mix, darker at the corners, and watering down to a T4w at the horizon and around the belfry.

Then I used a crumpled up paper towel to lift some of the pigment away to give the impression of clouds.

Most importantly, I resisted the urge to go back and add shadows to the clouds, or deepen the value contrasts in the sky. I just painted it – and let it be.

Belfry and Overhang

I don’t know what the correct term is for a fake bell tower, so I’m just going to call this a belfry. To paint this, I mixed a warm earth tone (I forget the pigments, but it was probably a mixture of New Gamboge or Yellow Ochre, Hansa Yellow Light, Quin Purple, and Quin Red. I painted the whole tower with a bright warm hue, then let it dry. Then, I painted the shadowed sides by just using more of the same pigments. While it was still wet, I dropped in a drip of Quin Purple in the tightest corners.

Then, I painted the underside of the overhang. At first I didn’t like the color. So I let it dry, and went back over it with a darker hue. I still didn’t like it, so I dried it again, and went back with more of the same pigment, and this time I added a few drops of Quin Purple and Indie Blue here and there (more on the far right, where the shadows should be the strongest)

For the ledge that was catching light, I painted the same color from the belfry, but I added a drip of Quin Purple in a few spots to weather it a little.

Roof and Uh… Apron?

First I painted the roof. I used the same color as I had used in the belfry, but I warmed it with some more Quin Red, and painted the whole roof this color. Then, I used Quin Purple in the tight corners again to represent the areas of ambient occlusion.

Then, I used clean water to lift the diagonal lines where the tiles are the join the faces of the roof.

With that complete, I drybrushed some texture to give a hint of tiles or shingles.

I then painted the parts that hang down under the roof (the apron? I don’t know – I should probably investigate these terms.) For these, I used the same mixture that was used on the belfry, but with a touch of Perinone Orange added in.

I painted a flat wash in these faces first, then drybrushed a stroke or two to give the impression of stucco. Then, as it dried, I sprayed it with my spray bottle to get some small blooms, hoping it would feel more like stucco. This worked well.

When that dried, I painted the shadows using the same mixture I had used on the faces of the apron, but with a touch of Quin Purple added in. I accidentally added UM Blue when I created the shadow for the middle apron, and the glaze appeared fairly green – so I had to add some more Quin Purple to bring it back to a more neutral muted shadow.

When I painted the apron on the left, I focused primarily on making sure I didn’t get hard edges on the left or bottom because I knew I would have to paint the tree there, and I didn’t want to have to wrestle with trying to hide crisp lines.

Distant Trees and Curtains

For the distant trees, I tried to use Cerulean Blue with a smidge of Quin Gold to represent far away trees. I wanted to use Cerulean Blue because it granulates a lot, and that seemed an easy way to get single textures back there.

While it dried, I hit it with the spray bottle.

The curtains were really just an extension of the shadows on the inside near the ceiling.

Exterior Trees and Columns

First I painted the trees on the left. I knew these were going to land under the gazebo, so I wanted these to be somewhat far away. To achieve this, I painted these trees wet-in-wet to get some blurred edges. Hansa Yellow light was placed first – knowing I would cover most of it, but wanting to have a few bits and pieces hang out for highlights. Then I used a mixture of Indie Blue and Quin Gold + New Gamboge to give myself that earthy green. I added some Quin Purple to the middle to bring the bushes forward at the bottom.

Then I painted the trees on the left using more of that same green, but more saturated. I think I was getting ready for the end – and quite nearly over worked it.


Finally, I added the figure.

That’s it.

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