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Lesson: House On A Hill

Acrylic Painting Lesson

House On A Hill acrylic painting lesson I started out with the idea of painting a small yellow house on a hill. Instead, the painting became an old farm house with a view of distant mountains and a foreground of boulders and flowers. Paintings work that way; they become what they want to be. That is part of why I love to paint. I am driven to finish a painting in the same way that I can't put down a good book. I don't know what the painting will actually look like until it is finished. I start out only with a basic idea.

I like to start with my basic drawing, then paint the sky background, then the clouds, then the ground, then other areas. I sometimes paint the ground last. I then go back and touch up areas. This is just my method; you do not have to paint in this sequence. The sky sort of sets the mood; that's why I start with the sky.

Click Here for a larger view of the finished painting.

Acrylic Painting Supplies

acrylic painting supplies These are the paint colors and brushes I used for this painting. Feel free to choose different colors and brushes. You will create a painting of your own, with your own interpretation. Use my painting merely as a guide.

Paint: Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Prussion Blue, Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Lamp Black, Burnt Sienna, Warm Gray, Yellow Ochre, Hooker Green, Thalo Green, Green Gold, Grumbacher Red, Dioxazine Purple, and Deep Violet. All colors were by Grumbacher except Green Gold, which was by Golden.

Brushes: #10 Flat, #8 Bright, #4 Flat, #4 Filbert, #1 Filbert, #0 Round (for detail), plus a deerfoot brush. Use your choice of brushes.

Canvas Board: I used Fredrix 12" x 16" canvas covered board. I prefer to paint on a hard surface, rather than a gallery wrapped canvas, which is more flexible. The pro is that I like the surface much better and there are no sides to paint, but the con is that the painting will need a frame. I scan my paintings to create prints and cards, so that is another reason that I prefer a hard, flat surface.

You will also need the usual acrylic painting supplies, including water, a spray bottle and a mixing tray or coated paper plate. I sometimes use a glass pie dish, with a wet paper towel inside for mixing paints. I can wrap that in cellophane when I step away. My paints remain moist.

Draw In Subjects

one point perspective to draw farm house Draw the basic outline of your subjects (hills, house, foreground). As I said, I had planned to create a painting of a small, yellow house. When I sat down to draw, however, an old farm house came to mind, so that is what I went with.

I used one point perspective to draw my old farm house. I like to use a mechanical pencil. Others use charcoal. I enhanced the photo by adding the dark black lines and white circle to show where my perspecive lines were. This told me where to place the upper and lower lines on the side of the house, as well as the outlines for the windows. All vertical lines are totally vertical - only horizontal lines slant. I drew a regular rectangle for the front of the house. I then drew a small triangle on the top of the front. The slope of the attic piece on the roof is the same as the slope of the roof top sides. If you are not familiar with one point perspective, you can find many good tutorials on it on the internet.

Paint The Basic Sky

acrylic painting supplies Use your spray bottle to put a light mist of water on the canvas. This moistens it so that it will accept paint more easily. This is done just for the first coat. If you prefer, you can use a wide paintbrush to brush on a light coat of water. Use your hand to wipe away excess water.

For the sky, mix Cerulean Blue Hue with Titianium White to get your desired sky color. Use the #10 flat or #8 Filbert to paint in the sky. I use criss-cross strokes, angled strokes and other types of strokes to fill in the background. Lay down a base layer. Don't worry about totally filling in the sky area. Let it dry a bit; then lay down another layer of color. Vary your color. Add Ultramarine Blue here and there if you wish. Add more white in areas. I like to put more white on one area of the brush than on another area. Adding a variety of colors to a brush is called "loading" the brush. It naturally varies the color for you. Add a paint layer, then let it dry, then add another layer. Layering gives depth to an acrylic painting. If an area is too dark, simply go back over with a lighter shade of blue.

After the sky is in, use a large brush (such as #10 Flat or #8 Filbert), and Burnt Umber, to brush in the foreground. I used the #8 Filbert.

Paint The Clouds

acrylic painting clouds lesson I used Lamp Black and Titanium White for my clouds. Some people prefer to start with darker colors, then add on layers of lighter colors; others put in darker colors last. I prefer the first method. Mix black with white; then load your brush. I prefer a #4 Filbert for painting in my clouds. I sometimes go back over areas with a small round brush, or smaller flat or Filbert brush.

Lay down some darker lines here and there where you wish the cloud shadows to be. Consider your light source. In my painting, the light was coming from the upper left, so my shadows were on the underside of my clouds, and within the clouds. Leave some blue showing through to create less heavy clouds.

Go back and add lighter gray and white highlights.

Try various brushes and mixes of color until you get your desired effect. These are your clouds; they do not need to look like my clouds.

acrylic painting clouds lesson To finish the clouds, add pure white (or close to white) in small lines here and there to highlight the sun hitting the cloud. This will give more dimension to the clouds. The edges of clouds can be sharp, or soft. Areas within a cloud are usually soft, except where a layer of cloud is defined due to the sun being directly behind it. Play around with the edges and inside areas until you are satisfied with the look. I sometimes like to add a few little "wispy" areas around the clouds.

Paint The Mountains

acrylic painting mountains lessons Mix Lamp Black with Titanium White to get an fairly even gray color. I used my #4 Filbert to paint my mountains. I brushed on the paint in vertical strokes, varying the angle as I made my downward strokes. The gray color varied a bit, adding some definition to the mountains as I changed angles.

The reason the mountains are gray is that they are farther away than the house and foreground. The farther away an object is, the less distinct the color.

acrylic painting clouds lesson After filling in the mountain area, go back with a liner brush (small round, filbert or flat), and draw in faint lines to represent hightlights of sun on the mountain ridges. The color should not be stark white. Use very faint lines, with a white/gray color.

Paint Tree Line

acrylic painting trees lesson For my background trees, I used an old, frazzly, small round brush. It used to be used for detail work, but it got frazzly over time. It is now perfect for making detail on the white edges of ocean waves, trees, grasses and other subjects that require small, irregular brush strokes. I loaded my brush with a dark mix of Burnt Umber, Lamp Black and Hooker Green, then dabbed that at the canvas to represent trees or shrubs to the right of the house. This darker green created the background layer.

After the background layer dried, I loaded my brush with a bit of green gold, and various shades of white mixed with Hooker Green. I then dabbed over the previous layer. The white dots created highlights where the sun would be hitting the shrubs or trees. Not a lot of detail is needed here because the trees are not a focus of the painting, and the tree line is farther away than the house.

acrylic painting trees lesson This is a close-up of my favorite frazzly brush.

Start Foreground

acrylic painting ground lesson Mix various shades of greens, browns and yellow, using the colors listed above. Add black or warm gray where you wish to have areas that are especially dark or light. Lay down brush strokes in a mix of these colors. Don't worry about being perfect. This is just another base layer. Let it dry a bit, then lay down another layer. Continue to do this until you have built up a nice base for your ground. Layering adds depth - remember that. The first layer of an area is never the only layer.

Add Rocks & Flowers

acrylic painting rocks lesson At this point, my painting told me that I needed large rocks in the foreground. This is what I mean when I state that a painting becomes what it wants to be. I learned this from a wonderful art teacher. She always told us to listen to our painting. Don't fight it, or you will not be happy with the results. You might wish to have a grassy hillside, or a hillside with mostly grass plus some small daisies. Your painting will tell you what is needed. I felt I needed to add rocks. I blended shades of brown, and added some warm gray for hightlights. I used a flat brush and loaded it and made downward strokes to create a the look of rocks.

Flowers: If you wish to add flowers, mix red, violets, purples, blues or any other color of your choice. Use a small flat or round brush to dab at the canvas to create the look of clusters of flowers on the ground.

Start Painting Grass

acrylic painting grass lesson I loaded a flat brush with the Yellow Ochre and various shades of green and dabbed at the canvas where I wanted to start painting grass. The previous layers were merely the base layers. This layer will show the detail of the grass. I started by painting around the rock bases. The flowers were growing up over the rocks.

acrylic painting grass lesson I then started covering the remainder of the grassy areas, using a variety of shades of greens and yellows and browns. I used my deerfoot brush to give the effect of flatter areas (no grass) or areas with small clumps of greenery or dirt. Play around with your brushes to find the effect you want. I decided that a path was needed from the lower areas, up the hillside and across the front of the house, where it would join to a path coming from the house.

acrylic painting grass lesson I Continued to fill in areas of foreground. I added highlights to the flowers here and there. I painted in a base layer for the ground around the house. There is just the hint of a path coming up the slope.

Add Rocky Bluff

acrylic painting lesson rocky bluff I felt that the painting needed a rocky bluff at the base, rather than a continuing grassy slope under the large rock. I started to paint in a base layer for rocks along the bottom of the painting. As I have stated before, this is the fun part in painting. The painting changes and becomes something new with each step. I always enjoy watching what it becomes. I painted in one large rock at the far left of the bluff.

acrylic painting lesson rocky bluff I continued to add detail and shading to the rocks. I also filled in the grassy areas. Now and then I would add color or detail to the flowers wherever I felt it was needed. I wanted the rocky bluff to be made of smooth rocks, and I wanted it to look as if the land had slid away. I frequently see this sort of slide along the Oregon coast.

A Change Is Needed

acrylic painting lesson rocky bluff I liked my rocks, but realized I was a bit stuck. What did I want to do with the far left area of the rocky bluff? The area going down the hill seemed a bit narrow now. I liked the far left rock, but knew I needed to change things up. This is the where Titanium White comes in. It is a great cover, even over dark colors. My painting was about to evolve again. I needed a better transition from the rocky edge to the grass area.

acrylic painting lesson rocky bluff I used the Titanium White to cover the top of the far left rock.

acrylic painting lesson rocky bluff I then painted grass over what was the top of the rock. This allowed the grass to continue on along the edge of the bluff. I continued to add detail to the grass and dirt areas, plus added more to the flowers, experimenting with blues and red and violets. When I was happy with the ground, I turned my attention to the farm house.

Paint The House

acrylic painting lesson farm house The farm house is old, and not a perfect white. There are shadows and rough areas. I created that effect by mixing a purple-gray color, plus white, for the front of the house. The darker color created nice shade color. The side facing the sun (left side of painting) needed to be brighter, to show that the sun was shining on that side. I left that color a brighter white. I loaded my brush with white and a bit of gray. I was very lucky, in that my brush created fine lines for me, which gave siding to my house. I did not paint in these lines. They were created by the way I loaded paint onto my Flat brush.

For the windows, I knew there would be a bit of sky reflection on the side facing the sun, so I added a bit of blue to that glass area. For the front, I mixed the Lamp Black and Titanium White, with a bit of Yellow Ochre. I also added more water to my brush so I could blend the colors well. I used a tiny round brush (size 0) so I could stay within the window area.

For the roof, I used a darker gray mix. I dabbed at the roof to create a hint of shingles.

Final Details

acrylic painting lesson farm house I used my detail brush (#0 Round) to paint the black window trim and door trim. I added a bit to the porch, plus I added a red door and door knob. Pure red would not have been realistic, so I used a mix of Lamp Black and Red. I also added some greenery across the front of the house, plus a few more purple areas to the flowers. I added some trailing flowers, trailing over the rocks.


acrylic painting lesson farm house on hill Click Here for a larger view of the finished painting.

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