Friday, February 27, 2015

Skagit Valley Landscape

Recently I went birding in the Skagit Valley, and snapped a few landscape photos, including this one of an old barn:

Part of my 2015 "Year of Art" goal is to expand my subject matter, which has been predominantly birds for many years.  I rarely try landscape or buildings, and decided to give this a go.  The first thing I did was crop it down a bit on the right  hand side and bottom, and then I sketched it onto a sheet of 9x12" Arches 140-lb cold press watercolor paper.

Skies are hard, especially with clouds -- it involves doing washes, which I've never been good at no matter how much I practice.  You wet the paper, apply the blue with a flat wide brush, and then as it dries, you lift out the clouds with a paper towel.

I didn't get the same shade of blue, nor is it a dark as in the photo, and the clouds are more scattered, but overall I was fine with this sky -- I figured it was better to keep going than waste a nice sheet of paper and start over.  In any painting, one always gets to experiment with artistic license, after all.

Next, the foreground:

I made it a bit brighter overall, and the grass on the right more interesting.  And now for the buildings:

Here's where I really cut loose with my artistic license -- the original barn was white, but hey, a red barn is so much better!  I didn't want all three buildings to be in the same white/brown color range, and of course, red barns are iconic.  I was very happy with this choice.

Finally, I used a very small brush to draw in the trees, and here is the final painting:

I enjoyed this very much and am looking forward to trying more landscapes.


  1. It's not the same sky, but it's a good sky, and a plausible one.

    You get great skies out there, though I have to confess to a partiality to our mid-continental ones, overall.


    1. When I was growing up, we often visited our relatives in Montana (Great Falls area and other parts east of the Rockies) and oh, how I loved those skies. The sky does seem bigger in Montana, somehow. And I felt something similar to that during my most recent visit to Minnesota, when I got to go on a road trip. Different skies, and beautiful ones, I totally agree. Ours are too often gray, for one thing! And overall, they feel more closed in, because of all the hills and trees, at least around Seattle. Out in the Skagit Valley, things feel more open and I love that.

  2. Lovely - another great screensaver. I'm getting a wonderful collection!