Red barns look best in the green of summer (or the white of winter). This watercolor country barn tutorial shows how to include the lush foliage of summer trees, step by step so paintings can easily follow along.
(Note: There is no reference photo for this painting as I made it up. Student paintings are included – every one is unqiue!)
Downloads for Watercolor Country Barn in Summer
Suggested Paint Colors for Red Barn Tutorial
- Red – any Red will work
- Yellow – Lemon, Hansa, Aureolin or any light, bright yellow
- Brown or Burnt Sienna
- Light Blue – Cobalt and/or Cerulean
- Dark Blue – Phthalo Blue
- Green/Dark Green – use tube colors or make your green darker by adding black or a dark red
Step by Step Instructions for Country Barn in Summer
Step 1 – Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper and mask.
Optional – use masking tape to mask the barn as shown in the video, now or in step 6.
Step 2 – Lay in the sky, wet on wet with light blue.
Wet the sky with clean water. Drop in some light blue and tilt the paper to help it mix and spread, if needed. Then dry.
Step 3 – Paint the distant hills behind the country barn wet on wet for soft, far away hills.
Wet the background area down to the horizon line.
Paint on light green (light blue + yellow). Be wet and sloppy so the colors mix and lay on the paper evenly. Don’t worry if the color goes over the other tree areas – they will be dark enough to cover the overlapping color.
Step 4 – Add the middle ground trees (photo above).
Paint the middle ground trees on both sides of the dark tree area with medium green – going AROUND the gold tree next to the barn.
Lift – Before that dries, dab up some of the distant tree on the far left, just leaving a suggestion of color. This will make it look farther away than the tree in front of it! Dry.
Step 5 – Sponge on or paint the darkest tree lighter at the top to darkest at the bottom.
Dark Green – Perylene Green is an excellent green/black but you can mix a dark green with Phthalo blue plus brown, or use Hookers green plus black or a dark, transparent red like Alizarin Crimson.
Paint or sponge on the darkest tree beside the other two. (You can sponge on the entire tree or just sponge around the edges.)
Light to dark – Try to paint it lighter at the top and darker at the bottom. (You can make your green darker by adding red or black.) Add salt if you’d like more texture. Dry.
Step 6 – Add a golden brown tree right beside the country barn.
Mask out the barn edges with masking tape (see video) or paint around them carefully.
Paint or sponge on gold (yellow + brown) and you can add a little orange (red + yellow) if you’d like. While the tree is still damp, use a sharp point to draw/scratch in bare branches.
When dry, remove the masking tape.
Step 7 – Paint on the foreground and main tree (left side of barn).
You want the foreground a lively light green. You can achieve this by starting with yellow or gold to paint the foreground, then adding green on the left side of the barn for shading under the tree, letting some of it spread into the lighter color.
Add more gold above the foreground. Next, start sponging or painting the first coat of green of the largest tree.
Paint the foreground on the left side of the road to match that on the right. While that is still wet, sprinkle table salt along the edge by the road of the right side foreground. This is create a texture as it dries to look like weeds. Or, you could sponge on some weeds around the fence once the foreground dries.
Step 8 – Finish the largest tree beside the barn.
You can paint or sponge another coat of color onto the largest tree – whatever color you think would look good. You could also sprinkle this with salt while still wet if you want more texture.
Add a tree trunk and a few branches peeking though the leaves.
Step 9 – Paint the Country barn with barn red.
Barn red = red + black or brown or dark green. Experiment until you get a red that you like.
Front – Paint the front of the barn light red, leaving spots. Then add in watery gold or gray to the spots. The extra colors break up the red and make it look like an old barn.
Back – Paint the shadow side darker, going around the door. Don’t forget to paint the back of the barn that extends past the tree trunk!
Shading – Add darker red (red + black or dark green) shadows under the eaves. Tone down the white door with a touch of light gray (blue + brown) then add details like board lines, if desired.
Roof – suggest some lines on the roof with light gray.
Step 10 – The small building attached to the country barn.
Paint the small building barn red or any color you like.
Shading – Add darker shading under the eaves.
Details – a small white (opaque white or paint around) is nice and a light light of watery gray on the roof.
Step 11 – Finish this country barn by painting the road, weeds and fence.
Road – wet the road and paint it gray (blue + brown). Shading – try to paint the road darkest near the bottom of the paper and lightest where it disappears over the hill (a graded wash).
Fences – your fences can be brown, black or opaque white.
Weeds along road – sponge on or paint green gold or brown weeds or grasses along the road edges. You can do only one side or both sides. Dot or spatter with white to suggest flowers.
Watercolor Country Road in Summer Summary
For landscapes, working back to front is a proven technique for success – background, middle ground, foreground. Using basic colors and mixing your own greens, etc. will help give your paintings a professional look. Happy Painting!