Watercolor Painting of "Icy River" in Utah
Step by step watercolor painting demonstration by Roland Lee

This snowy scene is along Clear Creek near Richfield Utah. It was cold, but sunny as the late afternoon rays of sun threw long blue shadows across the smooth snow. I painted this full-sheet watercolor painting in my studio from photos I shot on location.
Roland Lee demonstrates how to paint a snow scene in watercolor

1. Using a full sheet (22 x 30) sheet of Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, I first soaked the paper in water, then stapled it to a stiff backing board. When dry I taped off the edges and roughly sketched in the shapes using a 4H pencil.

Re-wetting the bottom half of the paper, I first layed in the lighter blues of the shadows and river, splattering with clear water as the wash began to dry. This creates a little texture in the snow.

Next I painted the water using wet-into-wet washes allowing the pigments to mingle on the paper. The technique used in this area is what makes watercolor so unique.

Finally I scumble the distant trees and shrubs using dry brush and the texture of the paper to create texture.

 

Roland Lee demonstrates how to paint a snow scene in watercolor

2. Now I go to work on the shrubs, starting to model the shapes using both positive and negative painting techniques. I am also balancing warm and cool colors to keep the painting lively.

 

Roland Lee demonstrates how to paint a snow scene in watercolor

3. I continue to work on the trees and bushes adding realism and detail. I darken some of the snow shadows to bring all the elements into the proper value relationships.

While I drew heavily from my photos, I brought in more yellows and reds than were actually present to warm up the painting and make the cool shadows bounce.

 

"Icy River"
22 x 30 Transparent Watercolor
by Roland Lee
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Roland Lee watercolor painting of Utah river in the snow