Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to Paint Snow With White Oil Paint

Is Snow White?

Snow has relatively less pigment than its surroundings.  It is rarely pure white, though.  If you use pure white paint you will get an unbelievable big white blob. 

This effect can be useful if the painting has a planned surreal quality.  An example is seen in Kawai Gyokudo's 1955 color on paper scroll, Snowfall

Haystacks: Snow Effect,
 Claude Monet, 1891
oil on canvas 

Colors to Use to Paint Snow

Painting snow is painting the light. The light is reflected off of surrounding forms, landscape and sky.  For a cohesive painting, incorporate pigments from these surroundings.

Artists use pigments of the same or similar value to add variety and interest to snow.   This is seen in Monet's Haystacks: Snow Effect where he uses complements blue and orange effectively.

How to Paint Snow

Avoid painting an amorphous blob.
  • Use another pigment to tint the white
  • Use similar values (different pigments)
  • Intersperse brushstrokes to create snow
  • Keep brushstrokes crisp 
  • Do not over mix the brushstrokes- you will end up with a muddy blob, if you do. 
  • Caution: Black can give you dirty snow if you are not careful. Use black to knock down another pigment a notch, that is, extremely sparingly in a mixture.
Landscape artist, Stapleton Kearns, does not change his palette for winter painting,  but "whips up" his white.  He talks about that here: winter painting.  

Study Brushstrokes

Look at other painters original artwork in person as much as possible.
I wrote about an online brushstroke resource here: Best Brushstroke.
David Carmack Lewis' blog features several artist's rendition of snow here: The Art Out There: Winter.

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