Full Moon Light On Snow

 An In-depth Painting Tutorial On Handling Light-Dark Contrasts

This watercolor lesson shows you how to paint a dramatic moonlit winter landscape scene. The key to any night scene is in balancing the dark and light areas. Learn how in this lesson.

The Winter Solstice is nearly upon us! So, it’s the perfect time to try our hand at a dramatic winter night scene.  If you’ve ever had the good fortune to witness bright full-moon light on snow, you know the magic wonder of winter nights.

The most difficult thing about painting a winter night scene is balancing the bright light values of the snow, with the deep darks in the surrounding landscape. For the most part, night scenes are based on low-key value arrangements. But, with moonlight on snow, there is a good bit of very light value as well. Too much contrast and the painting can fall apart.

In this video, we’ll use a Value Composition Sketch to help with two things: define the major shapes that will form the structure of the composition; and decide what values will go where – using the dominance of dark values to highlight the lights of the moonlit snow fields.

Value Composition Sketches

We have a Value Basics Learning Track with fourteen lessons. They cover the basics of Value and two important uses for the artist. Included in the Learning Track are ten lesson on creating thumbnail value sketches – aka Value Composition Sketches. There are few better ways to improve your paintings than learning to compose your picture plane with a few large value shapes.

Color Scheme

One of the main objectives of this lesson is to transpose value as defined in the Value Composition Sketch into. Since it is a winter night scene, there is relatively little color. It’s a great opportunity to work with an Analogous Color Scheme, based on a narrow range of blues. 

What you’ll need:

Brushes – Medium Round, Small Round.


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Value Sketch For Winter Night Scene

The value composition sketch for this lesson is available as a separate lesson.

Value Composition Sketches have many ‘values’ for the artist. This lesson goes through drawing and thinking process when creating a Value Composition Sketch.

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