2018 Workshop Schedule. New workshops added! click here for details.
Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Create a Snow Storm in Pastel

'Hurry Home!'       10.5 x 7      pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $165
 I still remember that day. Caitlin and I were in Chicago. We were spending the day downtown while Corey was at work. It wasn't supposed to snow that day. But the forecast was wrong. Very wrong. It started after lunch. A nice gentle dusting of snow....pretty flurries that made us smile. We were happy we wore our boots! Soon though the snow intensified. It kept falling and it was getting heavier and more persistent. The wind picked up and it became cold and wet. It wasn't fun anymore.

So we found shelter in a store. The best place to be in a snow storm for Caitlin. I was distracted though. I wanted to watch the storm. Fortunately I found a window overlooking an intersection. I sat in the window with my camera and snapped away. I watched the people struggle against the snow and wind. They became some of my favorite subjects to paint.

Today I prepared some textured boards and decided to revisit some of these photos. Textured boards make a great base for painting a snow storm. It is easy to paint falling snow. Read on for some tips.

Working on a home made textured surface toned yellow

The painting before the addition of snow

  • I paint the big simple shapes of the composition first. I paint the snow on the ground but I don't worry about the falling snow at first.
  • Once the painting is complete it is time to add the snow. I choose a white or very light value soft pastel and a palette knife. These are the tools of the trade!
  • I hold the pastel over my painting and shave the pastel over the painting using the palette knife making sure I move it all over the painting. I want to avoid having clumps of pastel dust.
  • I press the bits of dust into the board with the back of the palette knife. Now I have what looks like a gentle snow fall.
  • To create a snow storm I take my pinky finger and quickly flick some of the snow bits so that they smudge. This gives the illusion of movement....as if the wind is blowing the snow.
  • I wanted to create even more movement in the snow so I used the sharp edge of a hard white pastel and paint some thin lines in the direction of the blowing wind.
  • The combination of pastel dust, flicking pastel and drawing thin lines all combine to create the feeling of a snow storm.

1 comment:

Karen Sambrookes said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I painted a winter scene a couple of days ago and used the "flicking" technique you describe to add the falling snow. It worked perfectly! My scene is a quiet one so I didn't try the swirling snow techniques, but that looks like a lot of fun to try. Thanks again!