The Backroad Barn Challenge

Old Backroads Barn (2)
The Old Backroads Barn

Yep, folks, that’s a barn you’re looking at. Yep, folks, I painted that barn. Yep, folks, I’m rather proud of it.

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that I don’t paint barns — or any buildings — and that my previous attempts have been laughable. So why would I deliberately choose to paint this old barn?

Good question.

I have a friend who does a lot ofΒ back roading, driving around old country roads, looking for abandoned buildings, old cabins, picturesque barns and overgrown fields. When I saw this photo from one of her recent excursions, I immediately asked for permission to paint it.

Don’t ask why. I can’t give a good answer. All I can say is that something about this old barn called to me. It simply seemed to be begging me to pick up a paintbrush and give it a go.

Once I had permission to paint this old barn… well, I suddenly realized how very silly that idea was, but, too late. Having asked for and received permission, I felt I had to follow through. I was committed. But, oh, my goodness! How could I ever paint this?

Evelyn Mayton Backroad Barn (2)Here’s the actual photo I used for my reference. In her original photo there was much more foreground. I cropped it a bit.

I’m well aware that my roof line isn’t completely accurate, but even so, I think my finished painting is close enough to be recognizable.

Yes, I did add color to the sky. Yes, I do need to put more color in the grass. Yes, there are some good things here and some not-so-good things.

But, yes, I painted this barn, and it’s a sight better than any other barn — or building — I’ve ever painted.

I’m very glad I took on this challenge because it showed me that it is good to occasionally push myself a bit beyond my perceived limits. I can take a photo reference and create something from it.

In addition to giving my artistic confidence a boost, I also learned several technical things. First, I learned that with patience and persistence, I can draw and/or paint a building that’s not too out-of-perspective. I also had a chance to work on making very fine, thin lines. The bare trees aren’t great, but they’re better than I’ve done in the past, and I think my ability to create fine lines is improving. I realized that painting the shapes and colors we see really does lead to believable illusions. I was unsure, you see, about those windows and about that little door that seems to have fallen to the side. But, I just tried to paint what I saw in the photograph and somehow it came out looking as it should. And I had opportunities to try to figure things out on my own. How, exactly, was I supposed to create the effect of all those old branches and vines growing along the front and sides of the barn? I had no idea, so I just played around, again trying to pick up the basic colors and shapes I saw. The most important thing I learned, though, was that, yes, I can actually go back to a painting and correct fundamental mistakes.

Evelyn's Backroad Barn - WIPHere was the barn the first time I painted it:

You’ll see that I had the roof line completely wrong. How had that happened? More to the point, what was I going to do about it?

I knew it had to be fixed, so I went back with my brushes and reworked the barn. I re-drew the contours, and while it may not yet be perfect, perfection is often over-rated, right? The point is, it’s better than it was, and more to the point, I realized that I can, indeed, go back to something that’s wrong and correct it, or, at least, improve upon it.

I could still do a lot of tweaking. I could add more trees, work more on getting all those fine little lines that have always given me so much trouble. I could add more greens and yellows to the foreground. I even thought about painting in a little patch of sunflowers, but I won’t.

Simple though it may be, painting this barn was a huge accomplishment for me. Yep, folks, it’s a barn. Yep, I painted it. And yep, I’m very proud of what I’ve done here.

 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Good job on the barn. It’s always helpful to our progress as artists to occasionally draw/paint something we’re unfamiliar with. It trains our eye to see more accurately and when we are reasonably successful it gives us that nice warm feeling of accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always struggled with buildings, so this barn was a good project for me, especially since I had it wrong to begin with but was able to see the mistakes and correct them — at least to a degree. The angle of the roof may not be exactly right, but it does show the basic structure. I was very pleased to see the progress I’ve made. πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! A friend took the photo, and I knew I wanted to paint it. I’m not very good at drawing and painting buildings of any kind, so it was a good challenge for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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