Painting Snow without White Paint !!!!!

When it comes to watercolour technique I am a bit no correction a lot of a purist, which means no white paint.

The image attached is inspired by a photograph I took last winter of Tunstall Church in Norfolk England, there is just something about red  post boxes and telephone boxes in the snow, so typically British.

Don't Use White Paint for Snow !!!!
Painted on Arches Rough watercolour Paper
Using Winsor & Newtion Artist’s Quality Watercolours

The painting was my demonstration for my evening class last might 5 December,  not work that has had a lot of time spent on it.

Watercolour is a transparent medium, in my view if you are going to use it opaquely you may as well use Gouache or Acrylic, I have no objection to a mixed media painting, but looking at a wonderfully executed watercolour with opaque gouache where the paper should be left white sets my teeth on edge.

Whichever medium you are using tone in a painting to me is the most important skill, you can be a good mixer of  colour but if they are all of the same tone the painting will still appear flat. To vary the tone of a watercolour we use wetter paint for lighter tones and dryer paint for deeper tone, the dryer the paint the less white of the paper can be seen through the paint giving a darker Hue.

So back to not using White paint, I draw out the outlines of most of what I wanted to include, which makes me think more about what I am going to leave white. (In this instance I have not used any masking)

I paint the sky, church, trees and post box, and use shadow colour of varying tone on the paper to create the contours of the snow.

On looking at the painting with a critical eye, I realise I have not left enough white on the top on the church wall or where the snow is sitting on flints close to the top of the wall. I take a craft knife and scratch carefully back to the white of the paper, jumping over the texture of the rough paper.

I then paint the shadow cast below the snow on to the wall, which gives it a more 3D look.

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One thought on “Painting Snow without White Paint !!!!!

  1. I agree completely Linda. I teach all my students that white paint does not belong on a watercolor palette. It never looks as good as the white of the paper and looks dull. It takes a little more planning and care to avoid your highlights, but it is worth it. Thank you for posting this. 🙂

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