Old Barn Wood Painting

While we #StayatHome, my family has resolved to learn something new or perfect a skill. My husband is pursuing further general aviation certifications; my daughters (home from college–so much for that empty-nesting!) are working on their cooking and baking skills, & adding to their workout goals (via Zoom with friends, of course!). As for me, I chose Oil Painting, in honor of my Dad, who painted beautifully. Sadly, we lost most of his paintings two years ago when my mom’s house was consumed in the California wildfires. Oh, the irreplaceable things..but my Dad’s paintings were the hardest loss for me.

So, goal in mind, luckily for me, the estimable MissMustardSeed was holding an online beginning oil painting class last week. It was a very informative class, hooking me immediately. I’ve always painted in acrylics, but I just love the silkiness and layering of oils and the flexibility of the long drying and working time. The class is posted on Facebook if you want to take a look…. I really admire her style and ease in painting. Hope I can get there one day!

Anyway, I needed something to practice on, ran out of canvasses, Hobby lobby & Michael’s are closed, and I am way too impatient to wait for Amazon (though some are on-order!) — so turned to these barn wood “coasters” I bought from a vendor awhile back.

I’m so glad I did….They have great texture and patina even before paint. I got started with the blues and white on my palette, adding the beginning of a sky–the barn wood created so much dimension already!

I’ve always loved the texture, colors, & romance of old barns; my favorite of my Dad’s paintings was of an old red one, so that was my inspiration today, though not red, ’cause I don’t have any, because, see above!

HOWEVER, my rustic barn just took shape, the undulations of the wood created natural painted “barn wood” texture, and I was able to use the “bump” in the middle of this square to push out the barn’s covered shed. 


I should say that using the paint was quite different here than using it on the easy, smooth surface of a canvas. It goes on sparingly, and “grabs” the raised texture of the wood, doing a lot of the work of building shading for me. I love the casual, imperfect shapes–it forces my Type A “wanna be perfect” tendency way into the background and forced me to just “go with it.” It was important to mix colors that were lighter than I might have chosen for base layers, as the wood is already dark–and shadowing was almost automatic.

I finally was able to add some additional detailing and a small garden and walkway drawing the eye up to the barn.

The garden was the hardest, as the brushes just didn’t want to create smooth stalks and willowy vines as I was seeing my mind’s eye…so I once again “went with it” and have to say, the rough indications of a garden pair beautifully with the rough barn structure that is the focus. I loved how it turned out! I have five more of these to play with until Amazon gets here with canvasses…but truthfully, I think I’m going to be in search of more barn wood when all this is over.