Paint a Bush Shack

You can paint a bush shack in oils or acrylics by following the step by step lesson.


This lesson is now available on DVD No.1

How to Paint a Bush Shack

Free Painting Lessons for Beginners

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In this simple painting exercise we find we do not need to paint every little detail.

The vague background leaves the viewer satisfied with wondering what might be back there under those pale hills – (possibly nothing).
Try to keep your darkest darks in the foreground, making sure your paint does not get muddy for we need the contrast between the light background and dark foreground.

Create distance in your paintings

paint a bush shackThe background is almost white.
Here we learn how to paint a bush shack in a few brush strokes.
Keep the hills low and pale, space the shack, tree and fence posts well apart; this will give us a feeling of the Outback Australia.
Do not be tempted to detail the foreground – leave your brushstrokes bold.

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The shack should be at a height where the middle of the windows is about level with the far distant ground. (horizon line = eye level).
Do not detail the shack or paint it very square as most old shacks are almost falling over.
Once you learn how to paint a shack you can add it to your own arrangements but always have it facing into the picture.

We like the rustic look.

Try to work through this exercise with definite brush strokes and do not keep going back over your work.
The foliage in the tree should be full color, so wipe your brush clean and do not let any white get into the dark paint.
The colors are Burnt Umber and White. You may choose a different dark color.

If you are working in oils, use Titanium White and thin your paints a little so they will flow off the brush. (I use a few drops of turpentine)
Watch this short video tutorial and learn how to paint a shack in an outback Australian scene.
You may wish to paint the scene several times moving the tree and house around to make different arrangements. But always face the house into the picture and lean the tree into the picture.

Painting dvds
Go to – How to Paint a Gum Tree Butt – lesson 4

by Len Hend


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  1. I enjoyed your very interesting demonstration ! Cheers ! !

  2. This is the one I did with real paint (see my other comment).


    1. Lachlan – this is looking good – one point, it is not a good idea to have the hut facing out of the painting, best to have everything facing into the painting to attract the viewers eye in.

      1. Yes, I know. It was accidental, as I explained below.

        Thanks for your reply.


  3. Hello Len,

    Your generosity in putting these tutorials up for free is much appreciated.

    I am a bedridden invalid, and most days I am not well enough to paint with actual paints, so my first attempt was with stylus and art tablet in Artrage, which is a painting program which mimics real oil paint quite accurately (more accurately, at least, than any other application that I know of). It was impossible to imitate anything like your \’dab dab\’ brush, so I left out the foliage on the tree.

    After I finished it (and unfortunately not before), I realised that you had actually painted the fence going diagonally straight across the road, which it would never do in real life, and I had blindly copied you. As a country girl who has lived and worked o a number of farms and sheep stations and done a certain amount of fencing on my own country property, I feel I should have noticed this sooner. Silly me! Did you notice it?

    I\’ve worked in monochrome with pencils for decades, mostly drawing the human form, but I\’m very new to painting and to landscapes, and it shows. I decided to reverse the positions of the tree and the hut because I am left-handed and the direction of strokes for the majority of the tree branches and fence rails would have been easier that way around. So far so good. But I completely forgot about that decision halfway through, and did the hut facing the same direction as yours, which meant that it was facing out of the picture, and only realised it after I\’d finished the whole painting. I didn\’t have the energy to fix it. Maybe I\’ll do it again some day…

    I did the windows and door darker than yours because in the shadow of the verandah, glass panes wouldn\’t show up white, and nor would a door, even if it was painted white, which a door in a ramshackle shack like this wouldn\’t be (the photo shows them white, but it\’s not a good photo; it\’s washed out the greys and blackened the darker tones, and made the whole thing black and white for some reason). I left the track dark under the tree to indicate shade (I didn\’t feel equal to creating dappled shade).

    I had the same problem as Georgy with my fan brush; couldn\’t get decent grass even though I was careful to move the brush up and off. I ended up doing the closest grass individually with a rigger, which was tedious but much more effective. I think my fan brush is too soft, and also too new. Yours is old and ragged at the edges, which would help give separate blades. I\’m going to buy a stiffer one and attack it with scissors. Do you have a particular brush that you use and would recommend which is available in Australia?

    As for the foliage, I couldn\’t see very well what shape brush you were using, but it looked different from any of my brushes. I tried a few, and ended up with a size 8 Short Flat by Winsor and Newton. I put white on one side and the burnt umber on the other, and got the best looking clumps by pointing the brush down rather than up, with the white side facing the canvas, and making short jabs diagonally downwards and towards the page. It\’s not great, but it\’s the best I could do with the brushes I have.

    1. The Artrage pic didn’t upload in my first post!


      1. Well done – The gate might be behind the grass – I use a big round hog bristle brush for foliage or a 3/4 inch common house painting brush.
        Your tree could have a branch pointing at the hut to give the viewers eye directions (I’m sure you know what I mean) Thanks for showing – cheers

        1. I’m not very good at that sort of thing, I’m afraid.

          As I mentioned above, this was done in Artrage painting software on my Mac, so I was limited by the brushes available in the programme.


    2. I’ve just noticed the gap you put in your fence where the track is. I didn’t see it before …

      1. It is the gate and a track to the hut.

  4. Hi Len, i wish to thank you tremendously for your guidance. it is particularly difficult to find such comprehensive lessons online and i can, without a doubt say that yours is the best ive seen. i think its your frequent feedback which really gives this website its personalised and useful touch.

    i have been working through some of your lessons just to learn technique, im sure the perspective and placement will come in time but at the moment i am still very much a learner. one of the issues i have had, particularly during this painting, is using the the fan brush to create grasses. i have found that even when done extremely lightly i still end up with groupings of the bristles. i am pushing the brush “away and off” as you stress in your videos but to no avail. could it be an issue with the consistency of the paint? ie. the paint is too thick (viscous)?

    any advice would be wonderful. thanks for your time you have invested in this website, i am sure i speak for all when i say its the breakthrough into painting needed by us learners to start a long and addictive trek into the artsy world.

    here is my version of your has blocky foreground issues and a contrast issue behind the tree.


    1. Hi Levi
      Since making most of my videos a soft haired fan brush has come onto the market and is useless for what we do.
      At first glance of your painting I see you have painted a birds eye view of the scene with the horizon line half way up the canvas – your hut is well in from the edge which leaves the viewer a choice of looking into the middle background or into the right hand background, we should always try to attract the eye into the middle – your background drops down and off the right side of the painting, this again can attract the viewers eye off the painting.
      Except for these arrangement issues your painting and brush skills look great.
      Please study these 2 pages which will help you understand my notes above.

      1. Thank you very much for your guidance Len.

        I know exactly what you mean about the track of the viewer’s eye off the painting. horizon placement can be a real issue. I really appreciate your time and your feedback, thanks.

        1. Thanks Levi and happy painting

  5. I will redo but I have played with this one


    1. Hi Georgy
      I have just returned to Thailand and am now on my big computer – I see that you have placed a tree between the hut and side of the painting which is good but the tree looks to be way back near the hut which would make it extremely tall or out of perspective, this can be easily fixed by bringing the trunk down further and then the tree would be closer.
      It is always better to keep the horizon line low and show more sky.
      Thank you

  6. Thank you going to redo this one

  7. Done this but think I need to put something on the right hand side?


    1. Hi Georgy – the hut is too far in from the edge – you could put another tree there.
      I changed the image – brought the horizon line down lower – made the fence bigger when near and spaced the posts so they are in perspective – see
      Thickened the tree trunk – Widened the road at your feet and removed white flowers from corners (keep the flowers for the middle of paintings)
      Note – flowers should be very big at your feet and very small near the tree, they must be in perspective.
      I don’t think you are using enough paint in the sky and possibly more needed everywhere – load your brush with plenty of paint.
      You are doing well – cheers.


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