This watercolor painting of a shed with strong morning shadows was a painting I had my students do recently. The reason I selected this for the class painting was because it gave my students a chance to practice how to capture the early morning light and the shadows that result from it. It was based on a photo I took of a friend’s old shearing shed. I had previously painted this exact scene in Pen and Ink and Brush and thought it would also work well with watercolor. I think watercolor is a wonderful medium for capturing light.

Reference photo for this watercolor painting

Old sheep shearing shed Quirindi NSW

Reference photo for watercolor painting “Old sheep shearing shed Quirindi NSW”

The basic steps for this watercolor painting are as follows: 1. Find a suitable subject that captures your interest. 2. Decide what you want your message to be. In my case it was the beautiful shadows falling on the foreground. 3. Make any needed design decisions. As I wanted my watercolor painting to focus on the shadows I increased the foreground area. I also decided to add some sheep as it is a painting of a shearing shed. 4. Paint the sky and ground under painting in one go. It is important to get the tones right with the lightest in the sky and those in the ground getting stronger towards the foreground. It is very important to let this stage of your watercolor painting fully dry before you continue.

Watercolor under painting for shed in morning light

Figure 1: Under painting for watercolor landscape painting of shed and shadows.

5. Next comes the distant hills. Remember to keep them light to add depth to your painting.  While these were a little wet I painted the distant foliage in the far right hand trees. I finished this foliage after the hill had dried so I could create some hard edges. 6. Next comes the main trees on the right hand side.  If you are interested you can find out how to paint gum trees by reading another article on this website here: How to paint Australian eucalyptus trees. 7. When the trees are completed I then painted the sheds with a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna watercolors. I used a thicker mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna for the dark areas of the main building e.g. under the roof, under the large awning on the right had side of the building, above and below the door, etc. Some dropped in Burnt Sienna gave the shed walls a look of some rust. 8. The watercolor painting is nearly finished at this stage. However before the shadows are put in I painted the rocks, sheep, and fence on the left. 9. The shadows finished the watercolor painting.  For shadows I used a mix of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson – this mix should lean towards the blue not the red.  I also make sure I have more than enough paint to finish all the shadow areas without having to mix more. The shadow watercolor mix was applied to the building and the ground in one go. 10. The shadows are laid down very quickly and while they are wet I drop in some various dark greens. 11. Once the shadows are dry I finish my watercolor painting with the addition of some grass to help lead the eye into the painting. The above is a very brief and not complete breakdown of the steps taken for this watercolor painting. Hopefully it will be of use to my students as a review. I will try to produce a full step by step demonstration painting of it sometime.

Finished watercolor painting of shed

Watercolor painting old shed in the morning with strong shadows

Watercolor painting of shed in the morning with strong shadows

You can see a pen and ink version of this watercolor painting in my Pen, Ink, and Watercolor Wash Gallery.