What You Really Want in a Winter Landscape Painting

Snowy & Colorful Landscape Painting

Around this time of year we are inundated with wintry scenes and beautiful snowy landscapes–on greeting cards, products, advertisements, calendars and more. But these winter landscapes aren’t necessarily all created equal, and the same goes for the fine art paintings of the same subject. One of the most important elements that separates works of quality from those that are less appealing often comes down to color schemes.

Late Winter Afternoon by Birge Harrison, 1908, oil on canvas.
Late Winter Afternoon by Birge Harrison, 1908, oil on canvas.

Landscape paintings of winter can get boring really fast because artists sometimes make the big mistake of stopping at “white.” I put it in quotes because, as many of us know, it’s never really just white. Just like the darks in a painting, the lights or whites must be created through dynamic color mixing to grab a viewer’s attention.

Sunrise in Winter by Birge Harrison.
Sunrise in Winter by Birge Harrison.

I remind myself that an artist should take every opportunity to mix colors and emphasize them, especially in a winter landscape where a blah whitewash effect is so easy to create. One artist that is worth considering when it comes to mixing colors for winter landscapes is the late nineteenth-century painter Birge Harrison. Just look at any one of his winter scenes and you’ll see incredible color usage: shadows on snow are richly colored in blue and gray-violet, and the winter skies that can often seem one-dimensional are subtly prismatic. Harrison pulls in pinks and greens and yellows, but combines his colors so deftly that you really have to spend time looking closely to see all of the undertones.

Mixing colors is all about pulling off our blinders and looking closely at the subject before us–and this is especially true when landscape painting in winter and any other season of the year. In Landscape Painting in Pastel: Winter Mood you’ll discover landscape inspirations for color choices, mixing colors, and ways to improve your compositions in the landscape. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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