Nov 10, 2016

What does snow look like? Painting and Drawing Tips


A dumb question? Right?  But really when you are painting snow, what does it look like?

Here on the west coast of British Columbia it is a challenge to paint snow.  Unlike the rest of Canada we don't get much.  We haven't really had a descent snow fall for 3 winters.  Actually our snow is up in the mountains, not here on the streets.  (Personally I think that is a great place for the snow to be.  I am not a big fan of driving in the snow.)
WINTER BERRIES - Watercolour 7 x 10
However, when it comes time to painting a picture for my Christmas Card, my Eastern roots demand that I include snow in the picture.  My reference file is very thin in the snow department.  So I turned to some of my favourite artists to see what they did.  Stephen Quiller is definitely one of my gurus for  watercolour.  He paints his snow all the time.  His approach works well for landscapes, which he is a master at.  But for my situation it did not answer all my questions.  Robert Bateman, is my other go to artist.  His wildlife work is real and his compositions are sooooo eye catching.  His snowy clumps fill his picture but don't steal the show. 

I needed those kind of snow clumps. 

My picture is winter berries with my little chickadee.  Yes, a new member for my Chickadees in the Garden series.  It seems a fitting subject  to round out my year.

To get soft and fluffy snow, with volume, is a tricky thing I discovered.   You need to consider:
A.    colour:  reflected light plays a big part here.  Colour is reflected from everywhere in the picture and that white snow picks it all up.  The colours are soft but still need the light to dark progression to give the mounds of snow volume. In my case the red from the berries and soft yellow browns from my branches and chickadee are my soft colours and my sky blues are my darker shadow colour.
B.    Soft and hard edges: this is a biggy.  Soft edges tell the eye it is soft and fluffy but hard edges talk about melting snow in the sunshine. Don't let them get away on you, the hard edges shouldn't be far from the focal point.
C.   Shadows: you need at least 3 values to create good shape.  Those shadow colours have to have depth and that means your value range has to hit all the numbers.
D.   Negative space: With snow in watercolour you need your white.  So painting the negative space is very important in watercolour. No going back later with a dab of paint to recapture your white.  Looking at the the sharp contrast between the edge of the branches tells the eye that those white clumps are snow.
E.    Gumption:  What do I mean by that?  Well, after making your plan, doing your research,  get your paint ready and go for it.  That moment when you take charge, paint and get into the flow is when learning really happens. Put your paint down and 'see' what happens.  Be alert to the patterns you create.  Feel your way.  Layer by layer build up the clumps and let it snow.

Hard to believe something as simple as snow can be so much work!!

Winter Berries will be my featured picture for Christmas this year but I don't think I am finished with snow yet.  I think maybe my Stellar Jay, sitting at the feeder may end up on a snowy clump soon as well.  All of this snow has really inspired me. 

Have you started your Christmas card picture yet?  What will you feature on it?

Special Note:   My Series Constructive Organics  Premiering at The ACT Art Gallery- 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge  Sat. Nov 5 - Wed. Dec 21.    7 of my pieces will be featured.  You can see some of my pieces here and read about working in series starting here.  

Time to gear up for Christmas.  Two things coming up that may help your shopping list:

1.  All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There - Sunday, Feb 26 or March 5, 2017.
This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners give me a call and we can set something up.

Great gift for yourself or an artist you know.  Gift Certificates are available.   
2.  Paints n'Bloom Fall Show & Sale -  Friday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, 10-4pm.
Gardenworks at Mandeville, 4746 Marine Dr., Burnaby.  Featuring Award Winning Artists Audrey Bakewell and myself, Wendy Mould, AFCA.  Proud supporter of Alzheimer Society of BC

Awesome opportunity to pick up special works of arts and art gift-ware for those special people on your list.

Special Show Features: Start your Christmas Fun early with a:
a.   Beginner Watercolour Class - Wednesday, Nov. 23 3:30-5:30pm
b.  Christmas Card Making Class - Thursday, Nov. 24, 2-4pm.
No Experienced requried,  All suppllies included $35 each.
REGISTER NOW with Wendy.   Space is limited.

Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar) Have a great artful day, Wendy


Brenda Hill CDM said...

love the soft background the bird and branch just stand out, yes a perfect Xmas Card

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Thanks, I must admit I love the little chickadees that flutter around the yard. They add so much life to the garden.