White Barn /Weeping Willows ~ The First Few Days

Since my first post on this painting, I’ve spent a couple of days developing the lights and darks working in mid-tones along with developing the willow branches against the sky.  I’m also working on finding colors that work well together that make the painting interesting and unique. At this point, I’ve intentionally oversaturated the painting with greens and yellows in order to create what I consider almost a base coat. I’ve been combining various blues with yellows to create a variety of greens, instead of using greens out of the tube.  Some of the green mixtures include a third color, like yellow ochre, raw umber, ivory black or titanium white.   My goal is to gradually apply enough other complimentary colors over the green to allow the green to provide an overall tone but not dominate the landscape quite so much.  I consider this the awkward stage.  When I look at it in this stage, I can’t wait to take a brush to it to improve it.  It’s hard for me to expose this stage to you because it’s not representational of what the finished product will be.  Where do I go from here?

I determined on this second and third painting session that I wanted to work in some texture and visible brushwork.  By now, I’ve changed direction from my original intent of working from background to foreground.  I’m hopping around and developing the entire canvas as I go, so that I have a better feel for the lights and darks and how all the colors work together.

After studying the “awkward stage” for a while, and trying to visualize where I want to go with the painting, new colors popped into my head while looking at the canvas.  I could see in my mind a different painting from what I was looking at. I started working into the background hills more blues (Cerulean and Titanium white) and Naples yellow mixtures that range from yellowish to reddish in hue.  I applied these colors with a palette knife, dragging it along the rolling hills.  This gives the hills some form, indicating the slope.  Using the palette knife accomplished my desire to create some texture while at the same time applying enough paint to keep the colors clean and vibrant.  Even though the painting still has a strong overall green tone, it’s starting to become more interesting to me because of the way the greens are broken up by other colors (see detail shot).


Lastly, I’ve been developing the weeping willow branches, the tree on the left, and the shadows cast by the willow trees.  I’ve been using turpentine to thin out the paint and a pointed round tipped brush to paint in the long curvy branches.  The darkest branches will have mid-tones and highlights added to them later.  I like the way the trees frame the viewer’s eye in on the white barn and the single horse.  Surely there must be some other activity going on around him???  Well, the three barn yard dogs were on the driveway barking at me when I was taking this picture so they didn’t make the painting!  It was an early Sunday morning when I captured this scene, so I’m assuming the owner was in church or enjoying a second cup of coffee at the brick farmhouse just out of sight to the right of the white barn.

We’ll see where I go next.  I will be developing the shaded grass foreground, the trees still need a lot of work and the reflections will be fun.  I’ll keep you posted.  I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or questions.