Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tennessee Barn - pastel with underpainting

Based on this month's WetCanvas pastel forum spotlight challenge, this painting was completed Sunday evening.  The purpose of the challenge was to use a wet underpainting for the painting.  Paula Ford hosted the challenge, and as usual, provided a lovely selection of photos to choose from.  I've used underpaintings/washes a few times, but after this exercise, I think I'll use them more often.

I chose a photo of an old barn in Tennessee.  I have a fascination with old, abandoned buildings and barns, so this was an easy choice.  Aside from the appealing subject matter, the image, with its layers of hills in the distance, was a good example of aerial perspective [by which elements will become cooler and greyer in color as they recede from the viewer's position]. 

Photo was cropped to a 9x12" scale, and I chose to keep the barn the prominent feature (not just the focal point) in the picture.  The Colourfix paper I used has a rough surface that doesn't allow for precise and small detail to be added, so that was another good reason to keep the barn a bit bigger. 

I used pastels of different values to lightly block in the main shapes of the sky, hills, trees, barn and foreground.  Using a small wash brush and rubbing alcohol, I then painted them quickly into simple shapes into the paper.  Rubbing alcohol is great because it dries quickly and does a good job of spreading the pastel pigment onto the paper. 

Here are the two paintings for comparison:

"Summer Comes to the Old Barn" - pastel
9x12" Colourfix
$85 ppd, ready to frame


  1. Thanks, Paula! Thanks so much for hosting these challenges on WC - I know we all appreciate the time you put into them :).

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