Let it snow!

It’s  been freezing here – down to -6 degrees one morning. But no snow. However, snow is such a great subject to paint in watercolour, that I thought a quick blog is in order. Here are a few thoughts:snow1

(I used a YouTube demo for this example and blowed if I can find the name of the artist to give credit to – apologies, will add credits as soon as I find them)

The reflective nature of snow means that despite the weak winter sun, there will be light in the landscape and possible the land will be lighter than the sky. Trees may be skeletal. In fact, a familiar landscape may be turned on its head.

Just because it is cold, it doesn’t mean only cool colours will appear in your painting. Colours bounce around when they hit snow and tend to become exaggerated. You will see colours that don’t really exist. Snow is rarely pure white!


The range of tone is often simplified. Bright white where the snow is in sunlight, middle value shadows and dark trees. But snow is not often white – it will re

flect the colours around it – you will see yellow sunlight reflected, blue or purple shadows and don’t be surprised to spot some pink going on. On a sunny day the yellow sunlight produces shadow which contain its complementary colour blue or blue violet. Warm evening light creates softer highlights often with a yellow or pink tinge and deep blue shadows.

You may wish to use masking fluid for sharp white edges eg along the tops of walls, but generally shadows in the snow will be soft edged and shadows are elongated due to the low sun.  As always aim for a mix of hard and soft edges to create interest in the painting. They will follow the undulations in the snow and often form a really important part of the composition.


Try not to get hung up in the details. There may be lots of bits of grass sticking up through the snow but you don’t need to paint every one. Dry brushing will add texture. Rolling your brush across the paper will break up the paint to form broken winter foliage.

You might wish to use salt texture to create snow flake textures. Do use with caution so that it contributes positively to the painting and does not just become a gimmick.

Today is grey and wet – hope you are warm and well, wherever you are!



About lizintheshed

Watercolour artist and copywriter, living and working in the Thames Valley.
This entry was posted in Art, how to, step by step, Techniques, Uncategorized, Watercolour and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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