In my recent lessons we have been painting snow scenes. This is a great subject for many reasons. First, for me personally, I love winter. I grew up cross country skiing and spending a day in the forest or on a mountain in the white is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. If your not a snow person there are still plenty of things that make snow scenes fun. One of them is the way snow simplifies the ground. Instead of a mixture of dried grass, busy twigs and broken leaves we have a smooth and gently rolling layer of white. Not only is this easier to paint but the snow shows the contours of the land and gives our picture a smooth plane of recession. Next, the white of the snow is a high key shape near the middle of our composition, right where we want our center of interest to be. So we can use the whiteness of it to contrast against dark trees, a melted creek or woodland creature. Snow is the only feature in a natural landscape that will be lighter than the sky, so it opens up value patterns that would be unnatural during any other season. Finally, snow captures light and casts shadows in a most expressive way. Even though the local color of snow is white, the apparent color can vary widely so observe them carefully and don’t be afraid to use strong color. Plus, snow scenes make great Christmas cards! So whether or not you like being in the snow, anyone can enjoy painting it.
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