The Cold of Snow in Watercolor: Intermediate | Believable Nature Painting | Suzy Paint N Simple | Skillshare

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The Cold of Snow in Watercolor: Intermediate | Believable Nature Painting

teacher avatar Suzy Paint N Simple, Watercolorist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Painting the Cold of Snow in Watercolor: Intermediate


    • 2.

      Art Supplies


    • 3.

      Under sketch


    • 4.

      Colors of Snow


    • 5.

      Warm against Cool


    • 6.

      Darks and Details


    • 7.



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About This Class

In this class, you’ll learn how to use cool and warm tones to your advantage and paint believable snow. I’ll show you step by step how to push your painting skills by working in layers and using a limited palette.

If you have been painting in watercolor long enough to understand the basics and want to take your artwork to the next level this is the class for you. This is applicable for everyone from intermediate to advanced in skill. 

Here you will learn:

  • How to create convincing shadows and light on snow.
  • How to let the water do the work.
  • How to correct small mistakes.
  • How to use contrasting colors to make your subject pop.
  • How to layer
  • How to use salt to add sparkle.
  • How to use the lightest lights and darkest darks to draw the eye to the subject.
  • How to take lessons learned from outdoor observation into the studio.




Your class project is to create a watercolor featuring believable snow on a log.


  • 100% cotton watercolor paper.
  • Brushes: 1 in. flat brush, a #8 or calligraphy brush, detail brush, 00 Pointer brush or rigger line brush.
  • Paint: Yellow Ocre, Burnt Umbre, Quinacridone Magenta, and Ultramarine Blue.
  • Paper towel.
  • Water jar or cup.
  • A palette for mixing.
  • You! :)

Meet Your Teacher

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Suzy Paint N Simple



Hello, I'm Suzy. I'm a Fine Artist specializing in watercolor for the last thirteen years. I've made this my career full time since 2018 and loving every day of it. It is my hope to learn things here I've never done before and also to share some of my knowledge with all of you. Lets paint!

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Painting the Cold of Snow in Watercolor: Intermediate: Hello, skill share, I am Suzy on Blade. I'm an artist in Arizona. I have been specializing watercolor for the last ten years. What we're going to be working on in this class is snow. We're going to be using color contrast to portray snow and how it interacts with trees and logs. And see how warm we can get this piece and how cold we can get this piece to make the viewer just feel the coal. I'm excited to show you what I understand so far of snow and my own personal experience of painting it, and I'll be happy to share this with you today. Let's go ahead and get out or paint brushes and get started. 2. Art Supplies: What is this? What happens? 3. Under sketch: We're gonna go ahead and sketch in the painting right now it's just the tree stump, some snow and then some lines for our offense. So I'm just going to start with the fence so I can get the basic idea of where I want my horizon line. And I'm going to simplify this painting because I don't want it to be perfect. I Just Want the idea. I'm going to go for a perfect stump. Are all trees are kind of narrowly and grow funny. See if we can do a couple more things to balance it out. Let's see that some chopped wood over here. And then maybe I can add some trees or some from later. Do a fence post here. I have to add another tree or something. This is a tree. And that's going to be a tree. Will be able to add a lot more trees later. Okay, so I got my basic idea of where I want everything to be. And it's sort of balanced, not going for anything perfect. And just to give you a better clue as to where all the darks are going to be. I'll go ahead and do some shading in preemptively. So you can see where I'm going to put the snow and where the snow is not going to be. So everything that's a little bit darker. That's where no snow is going to be. K. 4. Colors of Snow: Alright, so snow isn't necessarily white, it's the reflection of color. The color white has all the colors in it, everything on the rainbow. But since we are doing this with a limited color palette, a French ochre, magenta, blue, and a burnt umber. We're just going to be using those colors and simplifying what you can see out there when you're actually in the snow in person. And it's gonna be fun. Since we're going to start with this painting, it's going to be the lightest lights first. And that's always gonna be the snow. But if you have any parts that are browns and yellows, don't put the blue shadows, the shadows of the snow in those spots. So everything that I have currently in this gray zones here, here, here and there, go ahead and just leave that B, everything else is going to be covered with water. And then we'll be able to go in with different colors. So this is really fast and you're gonna have to pay attention. I'm gonna go in with my larger rush. This is a one inch flat. Even for painting this small, this 17 by sin by ten for the paper. I would just use a bigger brush because it gets it done lot faster. So everything in the foreground is in shadow. So this is in shadow. And everything that will be in shadow does not need to be perfect. And I'm saving these whites here because I want that to be o, so it looks like some color going on there. I want that to be saved for later. Well, that was a mistake, but that's okay. Bob Ross, we just use that as a happy thing. Work with it. Alright, here we go. So this is in the foreground. I use a lot of blue, they're there. That's what happens when you don't premix your blues. I'll get stuck on the page. And now here you have to already know where you want your shadows to be. And right now, all my shadows are in the foreground and some in the mid ground. I'm going to do a whole bunch of these lines because there's a whole bunch of plants and stuff that are casting shadows. Do a little bit more here. Alright, now I'm gonna go in with a different brush because I want to have fresh colors. Now here's where it gets interesting. It stops being blue, which is a reflection of the sky when you actually start putting in some other colors, because right now the sun is setting, the shadows are long. There's more than just one color in the sky. I'm going to put some other colors in here just to make it more interesting. Say me some purples. And then now we're gonna go in with yellow ochre for the brighter spots. Now don't put them completely next to the blue. Thankfully, yellow ochre looks pretty good. It doesn't turn green immediately. Take it a little bit so you have a little salt. And put that in the foreground. As some sparkles. Don't use too much. Wherever there's shadows. Doesn't look like it's snow just yet, but I promise it will because when we get those the darkest darks in there, that's really going to pop. Don't forget to mix up your colors. You can switch from the purple to the blue. I'll read in there. And have more of the darks up here just so it's balanced. And let's see if I can talk in those up a bit because it looks a little too light for my taste to come. More species of darks right here. And now we wait, and we wait for this first section to dry because right now this is just the latest lights of the whites. And when this is done, we can go in with the darker colors like the bark of the trees in the stems of a twigs and get some sunlight in there so that it can warm it up a little bit so you know that the sun's setting, but the sun is still out. 5. Warm against Cool: Always remember to mix up your colors before you get too far along. Or if before you start AT completely. When we're doing the snow, remember that white is only a light color relative to what's next to it. So the logs are going to have a warm tone even if it's a darker color. Ok, so for the tree, we're going to use two main colors, the yellow ochre and the burnt umber. Those are gonna give us those warm tones to contrast the cool of the snow. Start with the yellow ochre, and then we'll work our way to the darker colors. Alright, let's start with some of these chop pieces of wood down here. Alright, go ahead and dip your brush into the burnt umber. We'll get some these darker tones in here. And just get a lot of the burnt umber. It's almost 10% water and the rest is bird number. Go, keep going. And it's okay to kinda do a dry brush tricked technique where you're kinda stumbling across the surface. Give it kinda Burke, sort of a look. Here we go. And we'll clean this up when later. Right now we're just getting the basic shapes in adding more detail and things like that. Now that we have the basic warm tones of the logs of the trees, we're going to go ahead and go in with some reflections from the snow, which is going to be casting a blue onto the back sides, the shadow parts of all of the fallen logs and stuff. So it's going to be giving it at ambient effect. Gets some of that blue. And we're going to do little touches on the undersides of this. And start back here just so I can see what I'm doing. So just light touches. There we go. And I think that's all we really need. We're going to do a few more twigs back here. All right, so over on the top right-hand corner, there are tons of trees and twigs in young trees that are just growing and obviously sleeping for winter. But we're gonna do a whole bunch of them. So just kinda go crazy. Have a whole bunch coming out of the ground. Make sure to have them in different places. So some further back, some closer. Ones that are closer should be a little bit darker because they're closer to your eye or closer to the camera. And I'm gonna do a little bit more peer. Well, I was going to use my rigor brush, which is a really long, thin when that's perfect for making lines, but this will work as well. This is a, let's see, Galinsky. It's a number 0 to pointer brush made for really small details. A rigorous should be better this because it has more capacity to hold water. This one is really tiny, so doesn't hold quite as much water as the one I was looking for it, but they'll do. I'm gonna go back in on this tree. That's some more darks. If you want to make a really dark dark that's not quite black, but it looks more natural in the piece because I'm not using black. You want to mix the ultramarine blue and the burnt umber and have it be almost all pigment and just enough water to get it on the brush and as it God, just scribbling to make it look like it's bark. And that's all I'm doing there is making a kind of a motion IF that really has a term. And so now as you can see, compared to all the things that are made out of plants and woods and logs. You can tell that that is dark compared to the snow, Even though the snow is a almost pure ultra marine. So it really stands out because of that warmth of the wood brings to the piece. 6. Darks and Details: I really want this log to be the centerpiece more so than this beautiful tree back here. So I'm going to get the darkest darks and the lightest lights right here. This is where the sun's shining. That's where I want the viewer to focus. So get your darks, ultramarine and burnt umber. And we're gonna go in again. Really make it dark in this part here. Remember to kind of stumble across so that you can make it look like it's dry wood. Right there. Silica, this is, this is just ultramarine Bernstein burn. It's making that almost black color is not awesome. Here we go again. More of these darker, dark colors. Really I'm trying it's more darks and this foreground stump. Because I don't want that to take too much attention away from this beautiful tree that we have right here. Snow kind of starts melting, air reveal some of the ground underneath it. So one thing that you can do, if you feel like it needs a little bit more, you don't want it to be just a nice, perfect blanket of snow. You want some areas to look like it's more melted. Then you can just take those dark colors and kind of go like this with your brush on the paper. Kind of stumbled across and they'll look like it has ground revealed. So I'm gonna do that here. Now this fallen logs and tree here to help make that the shadows look correct, like the snow is actually on the wood. We just need to put in a couple shadows. So go ahead and get some more of that ultramarine blue. And we're gonna go up on top of it. You might want to soften that as just a little bit, and it can do that easily if here, if the paint's still wet, you can just go over it with a wet brush, no pigment at all, just water and go to the side and kind of make it look softer. Like the snow is just resting on this log. Like this is a perfect spot for me. And we're going to do the same thing here. I'll see that. Perfect. Do that again. So you can see here's a shadow. Then again with a clean brush but that's slightly wet. Go along the edges. You can soften that line. And they're great, and I love the effect. And let's go ahead and do a little bit more up here because it's next to the would want to make sure it looks like it's resting on the wood. And then soften the edge a little bit. Okay, now I'm gonna make it same thing here when it's next to this tree and make it look like this, the snow is sloping underneath, being pulled down by gravity, soften that edge a little bit. There's that. Go on with modem Brown. Put in this line here. Its defense. It's now there's some snow on top of this section here that I want to bring back out. So we're adding a little more shadow. And then soften that edge. Here's another edge here, and soften that. And I guess right now, this looks like it's over here more. I want to make it look like this is actually going all the way around and do the same technique. Soft edge. And now it looks like it's part of that forward stump. I'm gonna do the same thing over here. Make the snow look like it's resting on that one pile. There it is. Again, do not for everything that looks like it's made out of wood. There we go. Now we're just need a few more twigs. So go ahead and get your small brush out again. These are kinda like final details. You don't have to put them in, but it just makes it look kinda billiard ball. Usually wherever there's snow that's slightly melted, there's some grass or dead grass that's kinda poking through. So go ahead and just add a few of those put in here. You don't need too many of those to make it look effective. Just a few kind of poking through. And I kind of like where this is going. I'm going to put the lines for the fence in that you don't have to do the entire line all the way across for the fence. Sometimes you can just kind of do a tiny idea hint in some places of where that fence line is because it's barbed wire, sometimes it's hard for it to be caught on camera. Where refer your eye. I'm going to do a light grey with the same idea of the dark that you make out of burnt umber and ultramarine blue. And just kind of go along those lines. I already put it. Remember you have to go behind this Stump. Some parts of it can be dark, other parts can be light. And that was way too thick. That's k. This would be easier with my bigger brush if I had it, but I don't know where I put it. Here we go. So I've hinted at the idea that that fence is there. It's not a perfect fence. It's offense that could be coming down at any point, but we don't know. It's a very old fence. And that's pretty much it. Go ahead and sign your work and thanks for joining me. And it's one I've been wanting to do for a long time. 7. Thanks: All right, and our painting is complete. Thank you so much for joining me today. This was a fun one to do. I've been meaning to do it for a little while now. And going and seeing this know in-person had my fingers frozen and being able to paint this indoors was very much welcome. It was 30 to 36 degrees or something when I was out there and being from Arizona nice dry state, I'm not used to that kinda cold. I'm a lizard. Anyway. Go ahead and continue using these techniques on snow. I think I'll be doing another tutorial in the future with snow just because watercolors perfect for it. Probably a cabinet or something just because we're almost cabins in the snow. I would love to see your projects and the projects section post what you have if you have questions, I'd love to see a review. Is there anything else I can improve on? Anything that I didn't explain that you didn't understand? And then yeah, definitely post your work. I want to see what you guys are up to. Thank you again for joining me on this tutorial and I look forward to seeing you and other painting classes. C. Yeah. Right.