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.





  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™‚


    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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