Appreciating Winter Paintings

Since we are well into winter, I thought it would be a good idea to post some winter or snow paintings to appreciate.

Snow is interesting to paint because of the strong contrast of value, temperature and texture. Snow is wholly different from all the other landscape parts. It provides instant value contrast, it's so white, it jumps off the canvas. It's a different texture than branches, rocks or foliage, it can be as smooth as glass.

The color of snow depends on the type of light that hits it, and reflected light that's bouncing around in the shadows.

It looks easy to paint but the subtleties in the value and color make it hard to paint well.

This is a George Innes painting. He kept it simple as far as the detail and it has a strong temperature contrast between the warm, yellow orange sky and the cool violets in the snow. What detail there is seems to fade into the soft edges.

Here is a John Francis Murphy watercolor. He really doesn’t paint much snow in it but he suggests the snow with the value of the paper. It still feels like winter.

In this painting by Willard Metcalf you can see the strong design of the light and dark shapes and very subtle value changes in the flat snow. It has an abstract feel to it.

This is a painting by Walter Luant Palmer. Very subtle value changes that give the snow a lot of form, and a strong contrast between the warm water and cool snow and background. He gives the painting a lot of atmosphere by pushing the background cooler and making the edges softer.

This last one is a drawing by Issac Levitan. It looks like a tonalist painting, all the value relationships are there, it doesn't need any paint.

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