One of the best parts of winter is watching falling snow. (Sorry California, you're stuck with this all year round.) So wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to capture that magic in watercolors ? Of course it would. Here's how to do it.
1. Spatter with white paint
To add a snowy effect to a landscape , wait until the picture has dried. Then mix water and opaque white watercolor paint until thick. Spatter the mixture by tapping a brush against the handle of a second brush loaded with pigment. Some artists have a (dedicated!) toothbrush they use to spatter paint.
Titanium White and Zinc White pigment (sometimes called Chinese White) both work well for painting falling snow. Just keep in mind that Titanium White is bright and opaque, while Zinc White is more transparent.
2. Use a masking fluid
Masking fluid is the easiest way to preserve anything white in your painting, even though it leaves very sharp and unnatural edges. But it works like a dream for snowflakes, which require fine detail — as in the lantern painting above.
First, randomly apply small dots of masking fluid on the paper, varying the the shape and size. Tip: Coat your brush with soap before dipping it into masking fluid, or the fluid will ruin the bristles. Or use matchsticks or toothpicks instead of a brush.
Let the masking fluid dry thoroughly, then paint over it. Once that paint is completely dry, gently rub your fingers all over the paper to remove the masking fluid.
3. Work with the paper
This method is best for painting big, fluffy flakes of snow, especially on rough watercolor paper.
Just apply light strokes on a dry surface, using the flat side of the brush rather than the tip, and watch as white areas appear.
4. Use wax
If you want to create the illusion of snowflakes on a blustery day, take a white candle or wax crayon and randomly make some quick dots and dashes on paper. Then paint your winter scene over it.
5. Blot with paper towel
Tear a paper towel into strips anywhere from a half- to one-inch wide, depending on the size of snowflakes, and five- to six-inches long. Roll the strips between your thumb and fingers to form thin, tight cords.
Apply paint on dry paper. Take one of those cords and bend it to make it firmer, then press the tip against the paper. Make sure it not only absorbs the pigment, but also leaves a dry spot on the paper, so the wet paint doesn't leak into the snowflake area.
Your snowflakes will look more natural if you combine one or two of the techniques above. So go ahead and experiment — maybe with a cup of hot chocolate by your elbow to help set the mood!