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How to create a snowscape

The east coast is in for some nasty weather this weekend. It’s time to bundle up and stay inside—or, if you’re a painter, a great time to experiment with wintertime landscapes. Painting snow is tricky because light acts differently in snowscapes than in other landscapes. We think of snow as being white, but because it is refractive, it is actually whiter than white, and not white at the same time. There are many values and hue present in a snowy landscape. Realistically rendering snow is tricky. Here are some tips for achieving realistic snow—these pointers are geared towards oil and acrylic landscape painting, but many of the same concepts apply to other forms of painting and dry media as well! (Pictured above: "Sea of Mud," Alexei Savrasov, oil painting, 1894.)

(1.) Find Your View and Stay Warm

Most people prefer to paint a snowy landscape from a window, or reference photos. You can also paint outside, but winter plein air is not for the faint of heart! Always check the forecast before you go out to paint. If it’s below freezing, it might be impossible to paint quickly enough, especially with paints like watercolors. Wear real gloves or latex gloves if you can, and take breaks to w...

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Comments | Posted in: How To By K. McDermott

Don Brewer with his artwork

All images used with permission from Instagram @donniebeat. Clockwise from bottom left: Don Brewer, an urban plein air oil painting in process, "The Fortune Tellers" paper sculpture at a Plastic Club art show, and "Oneida Woods" oil on canvas.

Don Brewer decided to leap into the art world after a career in marketing. He attended college at the age of 45 to study art multimedia and web design at time when multimedia degrees were unheard of and logging onto the Internet meant dialing up through a telephone line. When I spoke with him on the phone for this interview, I could hear a relentless excitement beneath his calm and thoughtful demeanor. He explained a recent prize-wining photograph of his and how it represents not only an unusual visual perspective, but also what it means to live in a rapidly changing neighborhood. The photo is posted below, along with an explanation that is well worth the read. 

In speaking and corresponding with him, Don emphasized that, “It’s never too late to go to art school.” Don told me that attending school as an older student was one of the best experiences of his life, and he still keeps in contact with folks from his program. You can always make a cha...

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Comments | Posted in: Artist Resources By K. McDermott
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