Tip File: Painting Snow

The following is an excerpt from the November 2010 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, in an article titled “Snowbound: Painting Outdoors in Winter” by Michael Chesley Johnson.

Tips for Painting Snow by Stapleton Kearns

• Snow isn’t white. Learn to work with mixtures of another color that just slightly tints your white. Lay those mixtures over one another to mimic the opalescence of snow.

• Imagine a string of interconnected paper dolls that are cut out with scissors from black construction paper and laid on a white ground. That’s how things work in a snowscape. The sky and the snow are the white background and everything else is a dark silhouette.

• Generally, keep your lights warm and your shadows cool, especially on a sunny day.

• Look for structure in the snow and try to depict it. It’s not just all one value. You’ll need to seize on the changes of the planes in the snow and exaggerate them to get them to “read” properly.

• Don’t divide the amount of snow and the amount of darks equally; let one be dominant.

• Sometimes it works well to have the sky darker than the snow.


Sugar Shack and Lumber Mill near Jeffersonville, Vermont
(oil, 24×30) by Stapleton Kearns

To read the entire article on how to experience
the joy of painting outdoors in winter in comfort and safety,
click here and order The Artist’s Magazine‘s November 2010 issue.

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