14 Tips for painting a winter scene

By Nicole Tinkham

14 Tips for painting a winter scene

Something magical happens in the winter when the snow starts to fall. Everything gets really quiet and peaceful. It’s an absolutely beautiful time of year. We love staring out at the snow coated shimmering trees… through a painting or photograph, of course. Unfortunately, we don’t get to experience the whole winter wonderland thing here in Florida. But it is nice to dream! Whether you’re out in a snow storm or cozy inside, painting snow can be a little tricky. The conclusion is this: painting a winter scene can be quite challenging! Don’t assume that painting snow is easy because it’s all white. NOT TRUE! Snow reflects the colors around it so there are actually many colors to be aware of. And since there are many light hues, you must be careful not to dirty up your colors. Here are 14 tips to help you create a better snowy scene.

1.    Snow is not just white. It actually reflects the colors around it, creating an array of colors.

2.    For your white areas, use frisket to block out them out when using watercolors. Apply the frisket, allow it to dry, and paint over it.

3.    Add gels to acrylic paint to achieve more dimension.

4.    Modeling paste can be used to add texture.

5.    Keep in mind that as white nears you, it has a bluish hue.

6.    Make sure your brushes are clean so you don’t dirty up your pretty white snow.

7.    To make your snow look brighter, drop the value of your sky.

8.    Paint snowy areas on thicker. It will come forward and appear brighter.

9.    For a snowy plein air painting, be sure to bundle up and wear plenty of sunscreen. The light reflects off the snow which means you’ll get twice the sun exposure.

10.    Darken the snow with shades of blue, not black.

11.    Work from light to dark to eliminate color contamination.

12.    White paint can be flicked on the surface to create a snow fall effect.

13.    Snow peaks can have a hint of orange or yellow in them.

14.    When working with watercolor paint, use the salting technique for a falling snow effect. To achieve this, sprinkle salt on your wet painting. Let the salt absorb the wet paint and once dried, brush it off your painting. This texture looks best on a dark background because of the contrast.

The best advice we can give is to really look at the shadows and highlights. It’s not just straight white. What different tones do you see? How can you recreate that wintery feeling? It might take some practice but luckily you have all winter to nail it!

Now over to you! What are some of your best painting techniques for a winter scene? COMMENT below or over on our Facebook page and we will add them to the list.

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