Gillian’s Farm, part one

November 29, 2008 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

Gillian is our beautiful new great-niece and her parents, Lauren and Michael, have decorated her nursery with a farm theme.  As a former (and current and forever) farmgirl, I’m thrilled with this and readily agreed to do a painting inspired by the fabric Lauren chose to make the crib bedding.  You can see the fabric in the first photo.

For those of you who like to see how paintings happen, I’ll post the step-by-step photos, with some explanation of the process.


I painted in a sky with the same blue/green in the fabric.  While the paint was still wet I wiped out some cloud shapes with a damp paper towel.  Acrylic dries quickly so this step must be done FAST.

While I was painting, Dan was running plumbing to the barn/studio and now we have running water in the beautiful sink he installed.  To have a sink and running water to wash hands and brushes is WONDERFUL!



I enhanced the wiped-out clouds with some warm white paint at the tops and a pale pink at the bottoms…to suggest an early pink dawn breaking.  At the bottom part of the sky, where it meets the horizon I added some pink to suggest the sun.  Using a mixture of dark green and blue I roughly painted in a treeline at the horizon.

To make something appear to be in the distance you should do the following:
1) Make the object(s) bluish;
2) Make the object(s) hazy and indistinct;
3) Add “hills” in front.
gillian-farm-41Here I’ve added some hills.  Eventually I’ll add grassy texture to these.  Notice how as hills “come closer” to the viewer they become lighter and more yellow-green.
The paint is still wet…that’s what that shine is.  There is a new type of acrylic paint by “Golden” that is called “Open Acrylic”, meaning it stays wett — or “open” — longer and it behaves more like traditional oils, which take forever to dry.  I haven’t tried it yet.



This looks rough…and it is.  I wanted to establish a darker area and pick up the brown tone that is in the inspiration fabric.  This dirt road area will be enhanced and will provide a nice background for the farm animals that I’ll paint in part two.

This is another technique for making objects seem to recede in a painting: painting in a road or fenceline that gets smaller.

What I’ve done in this step is to add the underpainting for the flowers and shrubs that will ultimately be in the foreground. 

I’ll have a baby pig on the left side of the foreground area and a mother hen and a chick or two on the right side.  I’ll paint sheep on the far hill and have a cow and calve grazing in the middle distance and there wll be a horse somewhere…that’s the plan, anyway!
I made this custom grass brush by taking an inexpensive synthetic bristle brush and hacking at its bristles with a utility knife.
A custom grass brush

A custom grass brush

This type of brush is also wonderful for painting fur texture in animal paintings. 
Art and craft stores sell packages of these brushes for next-to-nothing.  A major brush manufaturer sells “Wispy” brushes that are made to do the same job, but I find that the bristles are too regularly spaced and the result doesn’t look like real grass…or fur.
Close-up of medium distance hill with some grass texture

Close-up of medium distance hill with some grass texture

You can see the beginnings of the grass texture in the hill.  I’ve used several colors of paint and have a lot more to do on this area.

I’ve done a quick paint-sketch of the barn and silo.  See how I’m using that crest of the hill to make the barn look far away?   After the barn is complete I’ll paint in some vegetation around it to make it look more fully part of the landscape.
The white things in the foreground are a post and a fence board.  The inspiration fabric has white pickets, so I’ll make my fence white-ish, with a wood texture.  The baby pig I’m planning will be peeking through the fence.
More to come in part two

More to come in part two

At this stage I have the barn and silo blocked in with color…and the house, too.  The inspiration fabric has a hot pink barn, so I picked up that color for this barn to.  Also, as Gillian is the farmgirl who “lives” in this farmhouse in the painting, I made it a lovely girly shade of pale pink.  The roofs will be grey-blue, like slate.
In part two I’ll add the details to these structures and “landscape” them with shrubs and flowers.
I’ve given the fence posts and boards some texture, but they need to be refined and the lower one on the left needs to be straightened.
Stay tuned for part two to see the all animals and the shrubs and flowers…and the corrections and refinements that I’ve mentioned.
As always, comments are encouraged and welcomed!

Entry filed under: Animals. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Baby Blue Eyes Gillian’s Farm…part two

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