How to paint a snowy mountain range in acrylic paint using a brush and palette knife. I have found using both gives me the best of both. Let me show you my method and then give it a go yourself. As always with my painting it's all about the layers to build up the colour and to give your mountains a more three dimensional look.
I draw in my mountain range taking special note of where my darkest areas are going to be and where the sun will be hitting the snow for the brightest highlights. Use your own reference you don't need to copy mine I'm just giving you the method, that way you can apply them to any mountain you want to paint.
Paint in your sky the colours of your choice.
Mix up a dark blue/grey using Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Alizaine and Yellow Ochre. This will be your darkest colour.
Take some of this colour and add some white to it and a touch more Alizarine for your mid tone colour.
Take some of your mid tone colour and add more white for a lighter colour again.
You have now made a colour string which will make painting this mountain easier. You can do this colour string with any colour that suits the mountain you are painting. These colours are good for my mountain painting but you may find your mountains are different colours. Just go ahead and make the tones of any colour you want to paint your mountains.
Using your mid tone colour paint as a base coat for your mountains. Do the tops and sides of your mountains using a brush.
While the paint is still wet use some of the dark to fill in where the darkest areas on your mountain will be. Don't worry about the colour mixing as we are just doing the base coat and don't want to lose all our careful drawing.
Using some of the lightest mix we made in the colour string, paint the bottom of the mountain blending the colour going up the mountain for that misty look at the base of the mountain.
Check to make sure you have covered all the canvas and no white bits are showing on your mountains. We have now finished the base coat and can now switch to a palette knife.
On this painting I have gone ahead and finished the base coat for the rest of the painting. But in this tutorial I am just concentrating on showing you how to paint the snowy mountains.
Now get your darkest dark and your palette knife. Load a bit of paint on to the edge of you palette knife. Lightly brush in your dark areas. You should be getting broken colour and the texture of your canvas will also help. If you are not getting any broken colour you may have to much paint on your knife or you could be pressing to hard. I would suggest you practice a bit on a spare canvas to see what works for you.
I have drawn in with chalk on this one where I want my highlights just to give me some guide lines. But that's totally up to you if you want to do that.
Let the dark's dry before moving on.
Now take your lightest colour you mixed and using the palette knife and the same method as with the dark we just did, put in your lightest areas. You should be seeing some definite shaping in your mountain range now. If not just keep putting in your dark and lights until you get the mountain shape you want. Remember a mountain has different sides and plains and is not just a flat triangle. So study your reference and try to see where the different angles are and follow those angles with your brush and palette knife as you paint. This will help to give your mountain shape and that three dimensional look.
Next we are putting in the snow on the shadow side of the mountains. Using your lightest colour in the colour string add a little Alizarine to make a slightly purple shade. Use your palette knife to apply this to the shadow side of the mountains for the snow. Let some of the colours underneath show through.
If the tops of your mountains are getting untidy go ahead with a paint brush and your mid tone colour and just tidy them up. You may also want to put your second coat on your sky now too. Do this before you tidy the tops of the mountains.
Now for some fun with the highlights. Using your lightest sky colour whatever that may be, add a little more white into it. Apply this to your mountain in areas where the sky would be reflecting on the snow.
Each layer we do from now on we will be doing less than the layer before letting the colours from the previous layers show through. This way when we have finished there will be lots of colours showing how the light is bouncing off the snow giving it life and helping to shape the mountain.
Let each layer dry before applying the next if your want really crisp highlights. If you want a more blended look do it wet. Experiment and see the affects you can can get. I will often do the wet on wet for a more blurred look on more distance mountains and dry on the centre of interest or closer mountains.
I have used tinting white next but if you don't have that just skip this bit and put in more of your light sky colour.
I have put the tinting white on the lightest areas using the palette knife, making sure I let the colours underneath show.
The tinting white or mixing white is not as white as titanium white and a little more transparent than titanium white.
Mix a little yellow into some white. This is just a hint of colour and apply with your palette knife a little bit at a time in the sunlit areas. You don't need much of this, a little goes a long way.
Lastly use your titanium white on your knife to put in your whitest highlights. Now you are finished!
Step back and check your lights and dark's just to make sure you are happy. You can always add more at any time.
Well I said we were finished but as a finishing touch, if I feel I need a little more mist at the base of the mountains I will mix some white with clear painting medium and brush it around the base smoothing the edges with my finger.
After this I went ahead and painted the rest of my painting. Doing the foreground hills in the same way just using different colours.
I have done a YouTube video on this mountain painting that I will link here as soon as I upload it. Sometimes it's easier to watch something being done that read about it. I do find after watching it, a quick reference like this blog very handy rather than having to watch the video again when you are painting.
So I hope that is helpful and you give snowy mountains a try.
Happy painting everyone.