Painting winter scenes or snow scenes can be quite a challenge for any artist. Getting the painting to convey the feeling of the cold weather can be tricky. However, cold doesn’t mean lifeless. Naturally, winter is “gray” and even a bit drab, but adding a warmer accent color can really enliven your painting. This keeps the painting from looking “dead” and dull. A hint of forgotten fall leaves, the slanting sun rays over the snowy area, a red barn, or even the light on the evergreens are all ways to add some punch to your winter scenes. By placing warm colors next to the cool colors, a lively dance occurs.
Since much of the scene will be light in value, to further enliven the painting, try placing some strong value contrasts within the painting. However, careful planning is essential. When you’re doing a snow painting, you really have to think about the positive/negative areas before you paint and be careful that you don’t destroy a white area that needs to shine through as snow.
Concentrating on the shadow and light areas within the snow reminds you that snow is not just white. There might be blue shadows, straw colored grasses, or black ice areas. To model the soft drifts and snow banks, I often use a wet-into-wet approach so that there are no hard edges.
If you get to a point where your “white” snow is just not white enough…I use a bit of warm color – either a hint of yellow or orange in with my white to lay down the brightest lights in a predominantly cool painting. These hot spots next to the gray areas really push the contrast and create interesting light patterns.
Ultimately, your snow scenes need to reflect your own emotions. If you are from Miami…you could have a hard time even imagining snow! My best inspiration always comes from personal experience. So get out in it…throw a few snowballs, trudge through the deep parts and get a little snow down your neck….it will serve you well! If you live in Miami….well, maybe stick to palm trees.
For you followers, here’s the finished painting I started a few weeks back. To see the progress and how I got here…check a few posts back.