What You Really Want in a Winter Landscape Painting

6 Dec 2012

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 the Step by Step Landscape Painting Instruction and Strong Design: The Key to Dynamic Painting eBooks, you'll find strategies for color choices, mixing colors, and ways to improve your knowledge of color in the landscape. And right now all of our eBooks are 50% off! So see what resources you gravitate toward that just may help you take the next step in your art. Enjoy!    

 


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