Old weathered barns stand as aging sentinels of an era’s memories threatened by what is often considered progress. What compels artists to create monuments from brush and paint in honor of their stoic decline?

Do you ever find yourself, while driving down the highway or some dusty road, unconsciously admiring the older houses and barns that seem to pass too quickly from view?

Is there beauty in the decay, or is it simply our longing for simpler times now slipping into obscurity? Imagine for a moment the absence of all those venerable structures.

Maybe it’s because I grew up and played in such diverse places, from the beaches and cliffs of Southern California and the woods, streams and mountains of Western Montana to the frozen birch trees and stunted pines of the Alaskan frontier, that I never tire of the richness and variety of this beautiful planet and trying to capture my wonder with paint. For me, the barns that dot the Indiana landscape add to that beauty – they remind me that we are meant to work in harmony with nature and I see in them those who treasured the land and lovingly cultivated it.

The barn that captured my interest for this painting is right off the back roads highway on the way to the Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne. In the 10 years since moving to Indiana, I have witnessed many of these beautiful buildings surrender to the effects of time and neglect – having stood majestic only months before.  How long before this stoic structure succumbs?

I’m grateful for the privilege of painting this beautiful building. As an artist I admire the textures and variety of shape and line. As a citizen of this wondrous planet I hope to preserve the noble character that I believe shaped the lives of the pioneers that left us these reminders of our stewardship to protect the land given us by a Loving Heavenly Father.

Stoic Barn 12×16 by Bill Inman

The Stoic Barn full 2 hour video was added to the Master Oil Painting Monthly Membership site this month – you probably watched the condensed fast motion video at the start of this blog. I realize some of you would rather see a quick breakdown of the major steps so I have chosen a few photos I thought you would find helpful.

5 Steps to a Stoic Barn scene:


Using a thin walnut oil wash I lay in some manganese blue for the sky. Since I am wanting to suggest a hazy, sun filled dusty farm scene I used a warm reddish yellow mixture of Gamblin’s Transparent Earth Yellow with a touch of Transparent Earth Red to form the foundation for the cooler greens and lavenders that will be in the trees and the barn.


I then quickly block in the major shapes that will form the trees and barn. I rarely sketch first, preferring to establish the larger shapes or masses rather than structural lines – I’ve never been a fan of coloring books and painting within the lines even of my own making feels too confining. Definitely not for the faint of heart though since I often need to correct my ‘drawing’ due to the free flowing intuitive and vigorous brushwork in the beginning. For me I feel this helps me avoid becoming timid or creating a lifelessness that often accompanies my more careful approaches.


Once I have the major masses in place I begin to refine the shapes, light and dark patterns and color temperatures. I look at windows and doors as shapes within larger shapes, rather than geometric forms that require rigid lines. That way, a single stroke of my brush might be all it takes to build a window, rather than applying colors inside a rectangle box.


Color temperature fluctuations are important in any painting – so I vary warm and cool color strokes throughout each of my shapes. Within a tree I will have warmer and cooler greens or yellows in both the highlights and the shadows – the same applies to the barn. Allowing warm and cool color temperatures to play next to each other creates a much more interesting and stimulating visual feast for the viewer.


The final work is deciding how much detail is necessary to convey a feeling of dustiness and allow the viewer to experience what captivated me about the scene. I don’t want any single brushstroke to feel out of place. Many of the shapes, like the clouds and the rarely traveled road were captured with quick simple strokes.

Be sure to share any insights you have with us as well!

And if you’re not a Monthly Member yet be sure to CLICK HERE to view one of our full length videos and see what we’re all about.