Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shooting Snow

I love painting the snow.  Its my favourite subject.  And yes, you have to do it outside.  The colours are amazing.  The "white" blanket makes for all sorts of fabulous compositions a la notan.  Your knowledge of values and value preservation will be increased dramatically.  Your ability to see will jump as well, especially as it pertains to colour.  This effort in conjunction with block studies is paramount.  Studies in bold sunlight are easiest, so start there.

Simple Snow Scene

It is easy to see the components of the snow in this scene in brilliant sun light.  

1.  In Direct Light.
2.  Glancing Light/Shadow Warm.
3.  Glancing Light/Shadow Cool.
4.  Cast Shadow.
5.  A Dark, Such as the Ground showing Through the Snow.

Remember, this is a photo.  You would see the various primary and secondary colours vibrating if you were on sight.  In any event you can see that there are 5 values here.  4 values in the snow alone.  So using a cool and warm variation in the same value is a way to preserve values.

2 and 3 are somewhat confusing.  These appear very bright.  Then you see the sun hitting a surface tilted towards it - true light.  So this area is darker than the true light area and must be painted this way.  This area has both shadow and true light (at the snow flake level), and reflected light from the sky and surroundings.  It is a marbled, vibrating, bright area.  Typically (there is no formula...) it consists of all of the primaries - yellow, blue, red.  Often there are warm and cool variations of this value.

The direct light is more straight forward.  It might be a bit of cadmium yellow with a lot of white to make the lightest value.  Or you might use yellow ochre.  Or.....

The cast shadow is a cool dark in this example in sun light.  It might be a ultramarine and red oxide plus a bit of yellow mixed to the blue side with some white to the right value.  Your ability to see will tell you what to use for the specific situation.

The dark showing through might be a warm dark value using ultramarine and red oxide.  Again, observation will tell you what to use.

Painting these areas has endless possibilities.  For example, mix a dark shadow using the three primaries and a bit of white.  Use this in the shadows.  Lighten the mixture for the light shadow areas and make a warm and a cold version in the same version.  Then shoot reflective cools and warms into the areas on top of the first paint layer.  Or, you might first lay down a pink in the right value, and on top add the other primaries in the correct value.  All such methods will make the snow vibrate with adjacent colours.

La Cabane a Sucre


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