Have you ever thought about plein air painting in the snow? It might sound challenging, but it's actually very rewarding and enjoyable. When snow falls, you just have to go out and capture the wonderful effects it has on the land. Winter landscapes are often characterised by long, dark shadow and a variety of brilliant colours. A blanket of snow can work wonders in completely transforming a scene into something completely new. So here are some tips to help you capture some winter magic.
Combat the cold
It's very important to keep warm while you work in the cold. This is because you're going to be much more motivated, focused and productive when you're warm. To combat the cold, wear several layers of clothing and have a hot drink in a thermos flask with you. Don't expose your painting hand to the elements - wear a woollen sock on your painting hand. Thread the tail through the sock and hold the brush in your covered bare hand. Keep your feet warm by standing on a bare bit of ground or bring a mat with you and stand on that instead.
Avoid windy days
As mentioned previously, you can work your way round the cold. The most problematic part of winter weather is definitely the wind. Even in summer, the wind can be a hindrance to plein air painting. When it's winter, it's going to hinder your painting and it's going to make it seem a lot colder than what it actually is. It's best to avoid wind altogether if you can. If you do find yourself fighting the wind, use an umbrella to try to block it from your painting.
Take your time
Unfortunately, snow melts. Many places are lucky to get any snow at all and when they do, it seems to melt away as quickly as it came. However, this doesn't mean you should rush to capture a winter landscape even if you're racing against time. Take some time to appreciate the details and beauty of the winter landscape before you. Take your time when capturing these in your painting. An incomplete painting that you can finish at home is better than a rushed and messy one.
If you find that you can't handle the weather, simply take a break whenever you need to. Paint for 10-15 minutes or so then head back to your car, turn the engine on and warm yourself up for a bit. Have a hot drink and enjoy the break. Then head back and work on your painting for another 10-15 minutes and keep the cycle going. It might take you longer than if you were doing your painting in a single sitting, but it's better than getting overcome by the cold.
These are just a few basic tips to get you started on plein air painting in the snow. If you have any more tips you'd like to share, please do feel free to share them.
Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: http://joannesberkshirescenes.com/default.aspx