the Kalispell barn

by | Jan 4, 2017 | Artistic Endeavors, Watercolors | 22 comments

For the past few years, as I really started to hone my skills as a photographer, I saw the world through a camera lens.  Seeing a beautiful scene, vignette, or a particularly photogenic item, and thinking what a lovely shot it would make.  Lately, though, I’ve been seeing things through a brush.  How would it look on a canvas or piece of paper?

On my recent trip to Montana, sadly, I didn’t have time for site-seeing.  We had planned a 1/2 day, but between flight delays and fog, we ended up only having about 30 minutes to drive towards Glacier Park before darkness set in.  It was a magnificent 30 minutes, though, and I kept asking Jeff to stop the car, so I could snap a few pictures.  Even as I was taking the pictures, I was thinking how much I would love to paint these scenes and I was glad I could capture them to take home with me.

I waited a few weeks before I started on one, mostly because I was feeling intimidated.  The sky was so glorious and I knew I couldn’t do it justice.  But, as they say, you can let perfection prevent action.  Didn’t someone say that?

So, with that attitude, I jumped in.


I was painting from the photograph, but not with the goal to be exact, but to express my interpretation of it.  I’m not a “realist” painter, but what I wanted to capture were the colors, the composition, and that moody sky with touches of yellow and pink.


Here’s the picture I was working from…


I took out the road and I really didn’t want to paint a field of mud, so I left that area as grass.  I left the line of the road, but made that a taller, yellowish grass.


I am about 90% happy with it, which is pretty good for me!  The barn on the right has some perspective issues, but I didn’t catch them until it was too late to correct.  I can live with it, though!



This painting is listed in my Society6 shop, if it speaks to you!

I also listed the “trees” scene and, while that wasn’t painted from a picture, it reminded me of Flathead Lake, which we took in on our drive from Missoula to Kalispell.


Here are some other pictures I took while out on our drive around Kalispell…

mms-3599 mms-3611 mms-3612 mms-3597

Wasn’t that sky just amazing?!

Montana was living up to it’s nickname of big sky country…


  1. Joan

    Hello Marian! Your watercolors are glorious as are the sky images taken with your camera. Your work is quite admirable and I love how you jump in to make your vision come alive on paper. Beautifully done!

  2. Kelly J Hostetter/WhiteHouseOldTree

    Glad you got to visit my neck of the woods. Next time you will have to come to the Bozeman and Livingston areas for the Gallatin Valley and Paradise Valley grandeur. We are blessed!

  3. Angela

    This is lovely, Marian! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Ellette

    Crazy to see photos of my backyard! I know where all of those photos were taken. Montana is not only called big sky country but also God’s country. Feel so blessed we get to live here. Please come back with your family when you can explore the area and all that it has to offer.

  5. Denise Cox

    My Goodness!! The sky is nothing short of amazing in your photographs! And Marion, you always sell yourself short… I love your pastels and have been thinking of purchasing several on Society 6. As with the upholstery, you have also inspired me to try watercolor. I always HATED art in school, even as a child in elementary school. However, as I have entered the DIY/blog craze the past 2 to 3 yrs. I am feeling “creative”. I may not be “artistic”, but hopefully a “creative” vein or two will open up.Thank-you do very much for all of your terrific inspiration. So looking forward to what seems is going to be a great year for MMS. Any suggestions how to start this “watercolor” thing would be greatly appreciated… ?

  6. Connie

    Your last line was exactly what I was thinking! I love Montana too! And barns!! Thanks for sharing your blessings.

  7. Trish

    Beautiful job; if these are some of your early works, keep it up and you will have masterpieces soon. Those pictures definitely make me want to book my next vacation to Montana. Man oh man, it is gorgeous, truly God’s country.

  8. Michelle

    Wow the pics are amazing, the scenery is gorgeous and your paintings are beautiful! I am so glad that you listed it on Society 6. I just ordered a print! This is my second purchase of yours from there.
    (I also bought the Folk Sheep pouch) The quality is as amazing as your work!

    P.S. Just booked our hotel for Luckett’s. It will be my first time and hubby is thinking about renting a uhaul for us to take!! I simply can’t wait!!

  9. Becky

    Oh Marian! You captured it beautifully!! Would recognize it from my many trips to Glacier from Missoula. Do come back. We love sharing our “Big Sky Country” with all to see!! Wish I would have bumped into you while in Missoula! I have been following you for years and just knowing you were in my “home”, felt so darn fun!

  10. Gilda Stigliano


  11. Barbara Moore

    While your paintings are just lovely – the photos are what speaks to me. You should sell a group of Montana barns photos on your Society6 site. What a statement they would make on a wall!!

  12. Donna Doble-Brown

    I love both of these watercolors Marian but I have a “thing” about trees and that one you painted is just glorious! I might need that for my office . . .. ?

  13. nancy

    What glorious Skies! Can I say one Thing? I would like your barns better if they had some “texture” on them. Maybe some vertical Lines? Don’t get me wrong, the painting looks good, but the barns seem to need something.

  14. Cheryl

    I’m thinking I love your painting better than the photograph! Love the colors and I also love your trees, simple and beautiful!

  15. Naomi S.

    Yes, indeed, big sky country! I drove through Montana some years ago with my family and I was really awed by that big sky and by the size of Flathead Lake. As we kept driving the lake just went on and on and on!

    Your painting is very good. It has a great feeing to it of the spaciousness that you feel in that environment. And the photos of the sky–such amazing colors as the shots progress.

    You are doing good work, Marian and I applaud you for your courage to try and keep trying the things that intimidate you!

  16. katienearchicago

    My observation: In deciding to make the muddy field into more grass, you eliminated one of the strong diagonal lines which made the original photograph so striking. The barns created the second diagonal line and the road is another. Now the barns are floating in the green grass. While a pretty painting, it does not have the same visual impact. Thanks for sharing your work with us and please view this as a ‘critique’, not a ‘criticism’. My two cents, offered with respect and affection.

    • Losthorizonlisa

      That was helpful to me. Thanks!

  17. Theresa

    Marian, I am a watercolor artist. My husband and I spend part of every fall in Montana. I take lots of pictures for paintings. My favorite subjects are the many grain elevators. This past fall I was in Butte where I purchased a beautiful watercolor painting of an old homestead and actually got to meet and spend some time visiting with the artist. Our hope is to one day own a second home in Montana. We love it out there. It truly is God’s country. Your paintings are looking great. Keep up the good work!

  18. Jill Winch

    Hi Marian,
    You may have mentioned this in another post, but what camera do you use? I love your interpretation of watercolor from photo.

  19. Mary Kaiser

    Your endless talents never cease to amaze me! Beautiful!

  20. Kim Price

    My favorite area of MT. Just love the sky out there. This painting is beautiful ! Love. Pines one also. Hope u find ur E ,lol

  21. jen

    So pretty! I lived in Kalispell for a year after high school, I miss the breathtaking beauty of it! And hiking at Glacier! Stunning views are everywhere. I hope to get there this summer with my hubbie and 5 kids


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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