How Do I Handle Shadows on Snow from Backlit Aspens?

10x8" Oil on Linen Panel Plein Air
10×8″ Oil on Linen Panel
Plein Air

Adding shadows in snow can be a problem because many people tend to paint them too dark and there is too much of a contrast with the white snow. A lot of times in photographs shadows come out much too blue, dark and vivid. Mostly, this is the camera’s fault, so we really need to observe when we are out there (brrr…) and see how much light is really in the shadows.

Be sure to soften your shadows with your finger, a brush or a Q Tip if you're painting in oil, or with a brush and clean water if you're painting in watercolor. This will help them "fit in" better with the snow and they won't look like hard-edged snakes coming toward you!
Be sure to soften your shadows with your finger, a brush or a Q Tip if you’re painting in oil, or with a brush and clean water if you’re painting in watercolor. This will help them “fit in” better with the snow and they won’t look like hard-edged snakes coming toward you!

Also, remember to connect your shadows in backlit situations so they won’t appear like stripes on the snow. Don’t be afraid to mess them up a little, because they do have to go over bumps, rocks, depressions in the snow, etc.

“It’s Snow Time” was painted en plein air in Rocky Mountain National Park in March. It was one of the only sunny and non-windy days I tried to paint! Be sure to click on the painting to enlarge it a bit. This painting was juried into the Plein Air Artists Colorado Annual Exhibit at Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO, September 1-30, if you’re in the area.

Thanks for looking at my blog and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Tell a friend about it – they can email me to be alerted when I add a new post: cecy@cecyturner.com. Happy Painting!