To finish, I added more texture in the foreground with opaque watercolor paint. I darkened the road and the darker portion of the clouds for balance and movement.
Although the painting is finished, I will put it away and then look at it again to see if anything needs to be added or subtracted.
The foreground snow is next. I painted this area with the same colors that I used in the previous area of flat snow. While it is still wet, I added some salt. I also rewet the snow near it and added salt in the foreground.
As the salt melts, it absorbs the pigment leaving a "speckled" affect which will give me the texture and detail needed to balance the composition.
After removing the salt, you can see the varied texture in the snow in the foreground. Next is the dirt road on the left. The darker value gives the composition more depth and the shape creates visual movement to the old barn which is the center of interest. It also helps balance the composition with the value and color of the darks in the clouds.
The large area of relatively flat snow is next and painted in sections because it is so large. I used some Cobalt Blue with Violet, lighter in the distance and a bit darker as I came forward. It is also darker on the right which is closer to the viewer and gets lighter into the distance.
I usually paint into all of the white space so that I have a good idea of how the colors and values affect each other, but because the white space will remain negative space, I decided to add more form and detail to the positive spaces of the barn and areas around the barn.
To make this painting more of a challenge, I chose a sheet of Arches 140 lb. cold press paper. I haven’t use that weight of paper for about 30 years. It tends to “buckle” if you use too much water. It is a full sheet of watercolor paper-22 x 30 inches.
The first wash was complex. To get the warm light in the clouds and on the roof of the large barn, I painted a wash of Quinacradone Gold mixed with some Cadmium Yellow Medium over the areas in the clouds and the roof and snow on the right.
Timing is critical in watercolor. Too wet and everything runs together. Too dry and you will get a hard edge.
Clouds have relatively soft edges, so I had to time the addition of the darker grayer side of the clouds and the gray blue of the sky when the yellow wash was still wet, but not so wet that the colors would run together. That also made it harder to get the soft edges of the clouds behind the barn because I had to paint “around” the roof of the large barn.
I next painted the reds in the barns and waited for everything to dry before going on to the next step.
“Gone But Not Forgotten”
Several years ago I took this photograph of an old barn just west of my hometown. A few years ago it was demolished, and replaced with a brand new nondescript “barn”. I pass by the site often and remember the old barn, and decided to give it new life in a painting.
To give the old barn new life, I eliminated all of the extraneous objects and just focused on the cold snow. The flat winter sky didn’t give the barn the drama that I wanted, so I added a sky from another photograph and adjusted the colors.
The next decision that I had to make was the composition. To get the “feeling” of abandonment of the old barn, I composed it with very little else in the picture space. This created a problem.
There are no rules on composition, but there are some basic principles–one of which is that a composition should have balance with the positive and negative spaces. The barn and some of the cumulus clouds are the only positive shapes. That does not balance with the rest of the picture space which is negative space. ( Positive space is any object that has 3-dimensional form, and negative space is anything that is flat.)
One way of balancing the composition is to use detail or texture or color in the negative spaces. Doing “safe” compositions is easier, but not as much fun!