How to Paint Snow on Mountain in Watercolour

Skill Level : 1 Beginner

Medium : Watercolour Painting

Subject : Landscapes

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 1 hour 59 minutes

Avg Rating : No Ratings Yet

Class Description

Children absolutely love playing in the snow, and many adults love it when they can take out their skis from mothballs and use them again for a change. This mountain has just received a heavy dump of snow and you are going to paint it in watercolours.

In the class you will learn:

1.   How to determine the colour of snow
2.   How to paint the snow shadows
3.   How to simplify certains areas of snow
4.   and more….

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Class Tutorial

The template

With a 3B or 4B pencil rub the graphite on the underside of the template and transfer the image onto the watercolour paper. All the little marks near the tops of the mountains represent all the patches of the snow.

Masking fluid application

Use a small round brush to apply the masking fluid to the paper. Clean the brush regularly in water so that the masking fluid does not start drying on it. You can also use a toothpick here instead of the brush. Study your reference photograph and mask in all the other areas that need to be preserved.

Paint the sky

Paint the sky with a nice bright blue in order to contrast against the white of the snow. The sky must not be too light either.

Painting the mountain

Apply the underpainting of the mountain with a light blue/purple mix. All the areas where the masking fluid was applied are now visible.

Painting the shadow areas

In order to make the snow stand out in the painting, we need to have a contrasting colour and a darker tone against it. With a stronger mix of the highlight colour, paint in the medium shadows, being very careful not to encroach into the lighter shadow areas. Don't be too hasty doing this.

Study the reference photograph

Keep referring to the reference photograph as you progress. One method of not getting lost among all the small patches of snow is to keep a finger at the area being painted. Another method is to place a marker on the reference print – this will direct your eye to exactly where you should be looking at. Darken up even more in the deep shadow areas. Be constantly aware of the different tonal ranges of the shadows, as well as the exposed rock faces.

The distant fields

Mix up a very greyish green and begin painting the distant landscape. Here you can also see the finished shadows of the mountain. Notice the subtle shading of the lower sections of the mountain.

Remove the masking fluid

Remove the masking fluid with a piece of masking tape. Always rub sideways across the paper and do not be tempted to pull the masking fluid off with an upward movement. It is now possible to see exactly where all the masking fluid was applied. These are all the sunlit areas of the snow.

The shadows in the snow

The snow also has shadows. Begin to paint the shadows in the snow with a very light blue (sky reflections). Study the reference photograph very carefully as to where they actually are. This is where you have to be extra careful in NOT encroaching into the bright snow. Lose these and you lose the effect of the snow.

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A view of the right hand section of the mountain. Notice also the subtle shading in the dark shadows in the lower parts of the mountain.

The foreground foliage

Don't use bright green here. It is early morning and these trees/bushes are in shadow. A muted green helps to emphasize the shadow colour. With a rigger brush, negative paint and mark in the long grass with a downward stroking action.

Background trees

These trees are darker so that they can contrast against the ones in front of them. Negative paint the shape of the green bush.

Complete the trees and grass

Add the various tonal ranges for the shadow areas and also the grass and the dark shrub.

The ground and rocks

Paint the piece of earth jutting out into the water. Keep the top edge much lighter where the sun catched to edge. Add the dark shadows on the rock and add their long shadows to indicater that the sun is still low on the horizon.

The tall tree

This tree is completely in shadow. Add the small dead tree and indicate the grass. Finally, add more tonal ranges to the yellow/green bush.

Final touch-up

Complete the water and the distant scenery. Because of the distance and early morning glow they are lighter in value.

Final painting

About Dennis Clark

Dennis has been drawing and painting for most of his life (since 1944) and shortly after that in watercolours. During WWII there were no art books so to speak, so he had to teach himself through experimentation, sweat and tears. He teaches the following mediums online - Watercolours, Pastels, Acrylics, Pencil, Pastels, Pen and Ink and Oils.
Read more about Dennis Clark

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