Plein Air and Sudio: Live Oaks and an Old Barn (Weimar, TX)


An old barn and live oaks in Weimar, TX (5×7″ oil)
This is a scene of huge live oak trees surrounding a barn just outside of Weimar, TX. With about an hour and a half left of sunlight, I quickly sketched this scene. I really liked the way the oak trees curved up around the barn, sort of framing it. 

Here’s the five minute value sketch to organize my plan of highlighting the barn making it a focal point: 


value sketch
And here is the scene:


actual scene (reference pic)
As you can see, I decided to darken the sky and brighten up the right side of the barn. Doing the pre-sketch was hard since I was in a hurry, but past frustrations have taught me those five minutes spent with the gray markers will almost cut the painting time in half and save a lot of frustration. 

About half of the way through, a random dog came up to me out of nowhere, barked and pooped ten feet from me before taking off. So, I spent the remaining time with that fresh scent. About an hour in, a man pulled up and said he lived on the ranch across the street and invited me to check out his huge oak trees. I put in a final 10 minutes, packed up and met him at his house. On the way I saw the dog in the road to the house with what looked like a grin. Ha. Mr. Janeske drove me around his property and on top of the hill is a huge, spanning oak grove with distant hills and trees behind it. Amazing scene! I told him I’ll be back for sure when the weather is right (it’s going to rain for the next week). I’m excited! 

Update: I worked on the large scale version of this study yesterday at the New Ulm art festival and it sold before I left! Here’s an iPhone pic of the finished painting (I need to get a better pic later). 

“Ol’ Barn on Sedan St” oil, 16×20

7 thoughts on “Plein Air and Sudio: Live Oaks and an Old Barn (Weimar, TX)”

  1. Ha! Oh the determination of the plein air artist! Now you have a new location to look forward to. I think that I need to follow your lead and do my little sketches before painting. I always get too much in a hurry and bypass that stage. I promise that I will do that next time I paint. I really like the apparent liveliness of your painting, sometimes it pays to have limited time to get it down. Sometimes I think I spend too much time and brain power to get it down and it is a bit too “tight”. I will also do that as well. I had a comment from a wonderful artist that suggested that I react and do several paintings or drawings. I plan on taking her advice.

      1. exactly, loosening up and I have noticed that it takes my brain at least 20-30 minutes of beginning to really see accurately. If anything it will help me to paint what I truly am looking at and then. I’ll let you know.

  2. First I like the composition, the circular theme is very sound. I like your planning. Edgar Payne said in his book that preliminary sketches that “each sketch or picture adds to skill, confidence, and an incentive in stimulating ideas for further pictorial planning.” Your color is awesome! Limited pallet! Less is really more! The subtle shades in the foreground are skillfully applied and keep your eye moving in toward the barn. It’s a very nice painting Stephen, with plenty of personal style and identity.

    1. I need to get back into that book. I read a bit of it, then got irreversibly side-tracked by Alla Prima (Richard Schmid). That quote is right on in my experience. I found by doing this little sketch, I was able to lay down bold brush strokes in the studio version. I bet from what I saw of your sketches, this is true for you as well.

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