Watercolour Winter Scenes (Further Tips)

Painting Winter Scenes in Watercolour

Icy Pond by Ray McSharry
Icy Pond by Ray McSharry

Painting winter scenes in watercolour can be especially satisfying. In comparison to acrylic, oil or any other paint types, watercolours are very versatile and can provide vibrant, subtle, translucent or solid effects more effectively.

They are easy to use and very aesthetic. You can create very interesting and eye-capturing landscape paintings with watercolours. Outdoor scenes, especially ones that have snow or ice in them, can be captured on your canvas and the only thing that will limit what shows up on it will be your imagination and creativity. However, you have to keep in mind that winter scenes in watercolour are easier to paint once you have mastered the tricks of the trade.

Winter Scenes Are Not Just Black And White

Contrary to popular belief, these snow scenes are not all about fluff and white. Colours can be used very cleverly and to create special effects. No doubt, the colours will be more subdued and greyed down, but there is still colour as we see in some of John Pike’s snow scenes where the colours of trees and evergreen foliage shine out brilliantly against the snow, when the sun is shining on it.

Whereas in summer the brightest part of a painting will be the sky, in winter, especially in misty or foggy conditions the snowy landscape may be the brightest parts of the painting, winter and autumn give painters the opportunity to create subtle, moody paintings.

Snow is a great subject and gives you scope to create interesting textures using dry brush techniques on the saved white areas of the paper. And when there is little light or in mist or fog this gives still more opportunities, with the use of the wet in wet technique you can get lovely atmospheric effects.

The Paper You Use Is Very Important

The two most important aspects about drawing winter scenes are colour and texture. It’s okay to use a little texture in some scenes but by and large, you would want a smooth surface that will help you capture the bright, crisp highlights of snowy landscapes and reflections effectively.

You can use either Bristol board or watercolour paper that has been hot-pressed. Pick the whitest paper as off-white paper will only end up giving your final painting a dull and gloomy look.

Most areas of the canvas are going to be off-white and only the very brightest sunlit ones will be pure white. Don’t forget that the areas that have sunlight in it will be very dazzling. Expansive, smooth white areas with bare tree branches can very quickly flatten out the space and you might find organizing your scene very difficult.

To add direction and form to your drawing, look out for groups of trees. These can be a very dominant feature and always remember that you can add things as you go along or simply choose to leave them out. Trees, the hint of the line of a river or lake bank- add them at will.

Painting Techniques To Use For Winter Scenes

There are various brush strokes that can help with attaining the effect you desire but there are two basic watercolour painting techniques that you will use. If you are painting sharp edges, then it goes without saying that any paint that you wish to put down on the paper will have to be dry before you start on the next shape.

If the paint is totally dry, the new shape will maintain its form and even a little dampness in the paper will mean that the two layers will diffuse. This is something that is deliberately done in the wet-on-wet technique. As the two layers and colours mix, your painting will acquire a diffused, soft look.

The mixing of colours and the extent to which they diffuse will be dependent on how wet the base colour was before you started on the next one and the dilution level of the second layer. With this technique you will be able to get a soft-edge effect as well as a widely spread pattern. It will take a certain amount of practice to get a hang of the wet-on-wet technique and be able to judge the results accurately.

Use Texture Effectively And Create A Stunning Picture

When you want to organize space, use texture. Accentuate the atmospheric perspective by adding a smoother look to the background trees and a sharper, darker look to the ones that are closer. You can get creative with these effects and your winter scene does not have to match your source photo to the last detail.

Are you fascinated with painting winter scenes in watercolours? I definitely love it and would love to share what I know with you. Contact me if you would like to learn some more about this art form.