I’ve been wanting to paint this barn for a long time. It’s 3 miles from my house, just off the road, and I pass it every time I drive into town. So a couple of days ago I pulled off and took some photos to use as reference.

When I sat at my art table, I saw the watercolor pencils my mother-in-law recently gave me. Below is a close-up of the box:

watercolor pencils

She’d had them for a long time (the copyright date on the box is 1950!) and decided that she had no use for them. I’m grateful to have them–I love old stuff, and I thought it would be interesting to try to use them.

So I did. I struggled with this little painting for a number of reasons:

  1. I am using a journal with regular paper, not watercolor or multi-media. It doesn’t handle water all that well. And I used a lot of water this time.
  2. When I’d put down a layer of the pencils and then got them wet, the colors all blended together and got muddied. And I didn’t try the colors out first–they were much brighter than I’d anticipated.
  3. I dried that layer with a blow dryer, then did a quick dilute wash of ultramarine blue to cool down the colors. It did that, but also made the paper start to fall apart a bit, and the pen marks started to wash off.
  4. I didn’t want heavy, thick branches so I tried to suggest them with the inking. I think they’re too wispy, but when I started to go over them with the pen again, I felt it was beginning to overpower the rest of the painting.

I finished it with pastel pencils, and compared to how it looked before, they did a pretty decent job of pulling it all together.

So, not my best effort so far. But live and learn, right? I love this scene so much, I’ll have to try painting it again sometime.

But I won’t use those watercolor pencils. 🙂

Hutchinson journal page