Behind The Painting – Barn Flowers

It was the first flushes of fall, and the Dorner Family Vineyard was brimming with lush green and blooming sunflowers.  The barn just past the wooden fence added a rustic charm that set the scene.

The Dorner vineyard is a gorgeous wedding venue in our hometown of Tehachapi, California. It makes quite the picturesque view for an outdoor barnyard wedding.

You wouldn’t believe it to look at it, but that barn is actually a facade! It was built from reclaimed wood milled in the late 1800’s. Between the sunflowers, the barn in the background, and the mountains in the distance, something about it caught my eye.

Barn painting and photograph side-by-side

The Challenge Of Painting Flowers

The sunflowers were the first thing to capture my attention. I thought, I must be crazy…those sunflowers will require a ton of detail work and be quite involving.

Which means, the real trick is how to capture the essence of the flowers without going into tons of intricate detail. I used an impressionistic approach to acquire detail without working every little petal and stem.

The next challenge was how to keep the sunflowers from making the painting appear busy. It is a balancing act to know just how many to add, and how loose to keep it. After all, the flowers would be the key element the eye is drawn to most.

Artist painting plein air

The Importance of The Background Settings

While the flowers were the subject of this painting, I still wanted to push the colors a little with the barn. The barn is part of the charm of the scene, so knowing when to dull colors and when to infuse with more vibrancy for visual interest is part of the skill an artist must develop.

When it came to the background in this painting, I confess I struggled a bit. The mountains didn’t fade into the background quite in the way I was envisioning. I tend to be a detail oriented artist, and I’m always working to push my interpretive side.

painting of a barn

Our Time At The Vineyard

It took a total of two trips to the Dorner vineyard and some time in the studio to complete this painting, but I enjoyed my trips to this lovely venue.  I believe my accompanying plein air painters enjoyed the trip as well. A special thank you to Mike and Michelle Dorner for letting us come and paint!

Part of the highlight of being there was in spending time with the Dorner family.  I first met Mike and Michelle when I spoke at the Tehachapi Hospital Art fundraising event as the keynote speaker.

Arbor and artist

I hit it off with Mike as if we were old friends. You could say he is an artist in his own right! His hobby of taxidermy is truly skillful. It takes true craftsmanship to capture the little details that make the animal appear so lifelike. I asked him if he would allow me to photograph some images in case I ever needed an animal reference…maybe a closeup of a bird flying!

My plein air group and I hope to go back to the Dorner vineyard again in the future, perhaps when more varieties of flowers are in full bloom. If you are ever in the area, give them a visit…and even better, come with us when we go for another visit and paint with my Tehachapi Plein Air group!