Thursday, November 3, 2011

Painting Winter

We hate to admit it, but winter is at our doorstep. Yes, literally, when we woke up last Friday morning the grass was white and we had to defrost the cars. Then a snowstorm on Oct. 29th, this must be a record for early snow. It wasn't even Halloween yet, crazy.

Although winter may not be our favorite time of year, it is a time for beautiful snow scenes. Snow scenes offer some unique challenges for artists. How do you capture the subtle variations in hue & value of the white drenched world? How do you capture the glitter of new fallen snow? How do you capture the beauty & wonder in the cold and sometimes dark winter days?

Will you paint from a photograph or set up your easel next to the kitchen window? Or will you venture out with a sketch pad and work from memory later? Even if you would rather escape winter by painting a tropical paradise, consider trying a snow scene as an exercise in capturing subtlety.

Some general tips for painting snow:

1. Keep your white clean, although you will be mixing small amounts of color with white to capture subtleties in the snow, don't let your white become muddy.
2. Look for hints of blue, yellow or even pink in various parts of the landscape due to shadows & reflections off of various objects. Snow is almost never pure white.
3. Snow is similar to water in that it reflects the environment around it. Although in a much more subtle way, snow will reflect color from the sky, trees, buildings, weather, etc.
4. Look for planes, how the light hits directly on certain areas while other areas are in shadow or are reflecting light.
5. Notice variations in the shadows. Because the snow is reflective even the shadows will not be completely one value.
6. Keep your lightest values for highlights so the snow will appear very bright.

If you've had success with a particular method or technique in painting winter scenery please share it in a comment below.


Bron King said...

Hi Kim That sounds like very early winter! Here the spring is cool but with a hot dry summer coming your snow would be pretty welcome. Thanks for your blog - I'm enjoying getting the emails, although I'm not painting so much at the moment. I'm concentrating on drawing and photography. I have my first commercial wedding in Dec, at a house in the country built in 1840. I'm still relishing taking macro shots most though, and spring's the time for that! cheers Bron

Linda H. Feinberg said...

I posted a snow scene on my blog this week. Thanks, Kim, for the help.