Let’s Paint an Old Barn and Red Clover!

Photo by Jax

This is Illinois countryside. My cousin took this picture while a storm was approaching a few months ago. I love it. It shows a dilapidated barn in a field of red clover. What I like about it the most is how the picture shows that even after humans fail to keep up, nature keeps on going. Nature doesn’t need humans. We think it needs us but it does quite well, if not better, without us.

So let’s tell this story by putting it down in paints. Today we are going to make a pastel painting with a watercolor under-wash.


Step 1: I am using an Ampersand Pastelbord (10×8). I decided to move things around in the picture to create a strong composition. I made a light sketch with a charcoal pencil.


Step 2: Turn your board upside down. Using watercolors, paint the horizon cerulean blue adding darker blue (cobalt) even a touch of purple (alizarin) near the bottom. Let dry.


Step 3: Paint the barn indigo blue. On the front of the barn where the light is hitting, paint that gray. If you add some sap green to your indigo and lighten it up a bit with some water, you can paint the trees behind the barn.


Step 4: DONT PANIC. You are going to drop a bunch of color in the field and you are going to do it with confidence. When I did this step I did not know how it was going to turn out. I rarely do. I just do it anyway. I knew I wanted a bunch of purple starting from the horizon line getting bigger at the bottom and I knew I wanted dark colors at the very bottom…that was about it. Never stop creating art because it intimidates you. You are the boss.
The dark colors have less water and more pigment, the lighter colors have less pigment and more water. Don’t worry about exact colors, most of this will be covered up almost completely with pastels. We are done with watercolors. Let dry.


Step 5: Using a light blue pastel, paint the sky. It’s almost the same color as the watercolor was only slightly lighter. I like to use scribble strokes, it gives it a nice painterly effect.


Step 6: Using light gray pastels, paint the barn leaving dark holes for the three windows and missing boards. Using a medium green pastel paint the trees in the background leaving a few holes in the trees as well. Using a light yellow ochre pastel paint the horizon line, skipping around a bit to let the watercolor underneath show through.


Step 7: Using an ochre green pastel, paint the grasses around the red clover.


Step 8: Using light purple and a touch of hot pink, paint over the red clover patch allowing some to show through. I like to be messy when painting. It is so much fun to be free. Scribble away.


Here is a close up of the barn. I decided to soften it up by using a blending stick, since the field was so impressionistic, I didn’t want the barn to have a ton of detail.


Step 9 Final: Continue down the field with a dark hot pink in the shape of balls. Allow much of the dark underneath to show. Highlight the red clover with a very light pink color. You’re done!

“Old Barn and Red Clover”
To purchase the original click here for availability.
To purchase an archival print click here.

I hope you enjoyed this free step by step painting demonstration on how to paint a barn and red clover using pastels. Try it, you may like it.


  1. I love old barns. This one is so beautiful! I love the red
    Clover and how it is so striking! The barn must have been
    Remarkable in its day.

  2. Carol: Yes, me too, I like the barns that are falling apart. Thanks!!!

    Harleen: Ha! You’re right, I forgot all about that quick bird! I’ll get him next time…hahaha Thanks.

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