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At one time or another, you will wish to include other elements —such as barns, grass, rocks or water—in your landscape drawings. It's not enough just to have them in your picture, but careful consideration should be given to whether one will be the center of interest or a supporting character. Therefore, a knowledge of their construction and characteristics is important for drawing successful landscapes.


Of the many things on the endangered species list, barns must be near the top. The next time you are in the country, try to get permission to look inside an old barn. If you have an appreciation for craftsmanship, these architectural wonders will appeal to you. Whether it be the hand-hewn beams, the peg construction, or the beautiful patina of the boards on the outside, you'll find something to admire. These picturesque constructions have naturally attracted artists as elements for landscapes or as close-up studies. The following drawing techniques will help you give barns the character they so richly deserve.


Here we have two versions of a scene with the same elements: a barn, a silo and a tree sitting in a field of grass. The first is rendered fairly well, but does nothing for the viewer. There is nothing going on, no story to draw the viewer's interest. The placement of the main elements and the uninteresting field add up to a monotonous picture. The barn is fine, but it needs help.

In the second version, the barn has been repositioned. A simple sky, a background of trees, a plowed field, fence posts and grazing sheep all add interest. Note that the plowed field, the posts, and the angle of the grazing field all point the way back to the barn. The barn is not overpowering, but it is still an important part of a picture that has a story to tell.

Barn And Fields Drawing
Pencil Drawings Barns


Step 1

To create on paper the beautiful sculptured wood that you see on barns, select a paper with a textured surface, such as Strathmore 400 Series regular drawing surface. Take a 2B charcoal pencil with the charcoal sanded to a forty-five-degree angle as shown. Apply the charcoal with vertical strokes without concern that some strokes will be darker than others. Remember, you want to create rough-looking siding that has been open to all of nature's elements for years and years. This is one time that neatness does not count.

Step 2

Once the surface is covered with charcoal, take a stomp and again, with vertical strokes only, run the stomp up and down lightly to create a gray value. Do not smooth the charcoal —that would eliminate the texture you are striving to achieve. Next, add the board widths with an HB or a B charcoal pencil. Use only vertical markings, as illustrated. Boards on this barn usually varied in width, since the wood was gathered from whatever trees were available at the building site.

Step 3

Start creating the wonderful knots, knotholes and irregularities of the boards. Of course, you want to include the cracks and crevices that snow, rain and sunshine have sculpted over the years. Make some of the lines thick and others thin to account for expansion and contraction. Create knots randomly, and surround them with crack lines, which run from the top of the board down to the knot, where they bend around the knot and continue their course downward. These lines should be of varying thickness and not necessarily parallel to each other. Take advantage of the natural variations in the paper, and add or delete tone to create all kinds of textures. Notice the shadow across the top of the drawing. You can still see some texture within the shadow area.

Value Old Barn BoardsDrawn Pictures Grass And RockDrawing Old Barns Colored Pencil


Most barns have a certain personality—something that gives them character and quiet dignity. Each person will draw these barns in a different manner, because each person will see and value different things.

The first thing to do when drawing an old barn is to forget about using a T-square, triangle or ruler. The freely drawn line, rather than the mechanically correct line, will add a great deal of warmth and personality to your drawing.

When indicating boards or siding, vary the thickness of the line to indicate spaces between the boards. To show age, make the bottom of the boards irregular with broken pieces missing. Draw the doors and windows hanging at an angle. In addition, windows can be shown with a crack or a pane of glass missing. Make the roof shingles irregular to show exposure and wear. Add unkempt grass, fence posts and other farm objects to the outside grounds.

All three of these barns were rendered with HB, 2B and 4B charcoal or graphite pencils on Strathmore 2-ply bristol.

The hanging and missing boards on this old barn tell a story of great age and hard use. Notice the variations in board width above the three windows.

Old Barn Drawings

The hanging and missing boards on this old barn tell a story of great age and hard use. Notice the variations in board width above the three windows.

Curved Roof Detail Intersection

The curved roof was simply rendered with uneven shading and a minimum of lines to suggest shingles. Don't forget to add telling details, such as the three lightning rods along the roofs ridge.

Grass Architectural Drawing

Architectural details, such as the shuttered cupola, add interest to the horizontal mass of the roof; sagging eaves and out-of-kilter windows lend a picturesque touch.

Whatman Board

Kieszkiel Farm 12Vi"x 18" Charcoal on 2-ply Strathmore bristol.

Private collection.

In this drawing, the strong sunlight together with the angular shapes of the buildings created an interesting pattern of lights and darks. The shadows held the barn shapes with the barest suggestion of details. The tall grass in the field against the dark values of the barn made a pleasing design —simple, but strong.

Whatman Paper

Encroaching Shadows

18"x22" Charcoal on Whatman paper. Collection of Susan and Douglas Story.

This scene presented a wonderful opportunity to study barn textures. This is just a small part of the barn, but to me, it makes a strong statement. The shadow emphasized the textured boards in the sunlight, creating all the dramatics I wanted.

Grass Sketch

Weather Indicator

23"x 31"

Charcoal on Japanese paper.

My search-and-sketch efforts were rewarded when I found these windows with an antique Coke thermometer nailed to the siding, giving me the basis for this drawing. I moved the bush for the purposes of my composition. The drawing was worked with Va-inch charcoal leads in three degrees of intensity.

Rocks Charcoal Landscape



Charcoal on Japanese paper. Collection of Dr. Martin Koscih.

This scene offered countless opportunities for drawing old buildings, wood textures, decay and overgrown grass. The broken windows first caught my attention; then I noticed the faded lettering. I added the small window to break the strong line created by the edge of the lighter building. (Don't hesitate to add or delete elements if they will help your work.)


When including grass in your picture, consider what type of grass belongs there. Don't draw blades of grass all the same width, the same height, or leaning in the same direction. Unless it is a well-kept lawn, the grass will grow every which way.

The preliminary pencil strokes go in several different directions with overlapping and differences in height. Everything is kept simple at this stage, with no attempt to achieve various values or individuality.

Grass SketchHow Draw Grass Pencil

Using a sharp B pencil, without concern for your preliminary pencil marks, start overlaying your strokes slanting to the left, then right. Think "design" while doing this. Make some blades short, some tall, some curved, some straight, and some darker than others. Short, angular strokes denote weeds.

Pencil Drawings Old Barns

Irregular, chaotic strokes describe the weedy grass in front of an old barn.

Realistic Grass Pencil

Irregular, chaotic strokes describe the weedy grass in front of an old barn.

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