Snow Fall Watercolor Painting Critique

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hey Rob, I love idea of a winter series!

    Since you are good at this stuff, I'm gonna be honest here. I don't think this one is working just yet. The other winter scene looked so effortless and this one falls a little short of that. I think the reason behind that is it looks hurried a bit. The trees are too sketchy for this type of scene. In other words, the basic shapes and values don't look planned.

    One of my big catch phrases for watercolor is "Plan carefully, paint freely". So I would use this as a study and take another crack at it. Try to mass some shapes together and get a good sense for design. You need to research this type of tree and see how snow sits on top of it. I didn't do any of that research for the paint over, so it's not right in mine either. The big thing I tried to show is bigger masses and design. Big shapes, medium shapes, small shapes, etc. Also, since they are sledding you can add the track lines down the hill (story telling!).

    keep it up. I love seeing the work you are doing. I think you are headed for a big breakthrough with this group of images!


  • @Lee-White Good call. Yep...I did rush this one. I had my idea and had done a loose sketch but I short cut the "real" planning unlike the other painting. I was in love with the idea so all of the details surrounding the main idea suffered. Thank you for calling me out on this one. I love this kind of critique because it helps to keep me honest with myself, reminds me to slow down and always take the time to plan.

    Here is an prime example of me rushing, in love with the main subject and ignoring everything else. This was a half sheet 15x22 in painting so a repaint was a big job. In the end the effort seemed worth it. Bad habits are hard to break...Geeeez!

    1st painting. Background was a total after thought!!

    This painting turned out much better and now hangs on the wall of a happy client.

    Time for a re-paint. Many thanks again!

  • SVS OG

    @Rob-Smith I have to say i love your sky - gave me the feeling right away of looking up at the sky during a heavy snow storm at night...complete with that intangible magic that occurs when one does this - very nice! ...for critique i would say that as i scrolled down from the sky to the folks playing in the snow i was not sure if it was day or night any more - the big area of warmth behind the people and the pure white on the ground made me think it is not a night scene - i think that in the paint over Lee chose a time just before sunset with a sliver of sun breaking through the clouds (could be wrong) - one thing that does jump out is the hard edge of the footprints and maybe even the people and parts of the tree trunks - it is such an awesome atmosphere you have captured in the top of the painting i think it should be applied to the bottom too to some degree - softer edges and less saturated colors on the people? - anyways i love your paintings Rob - very nice work!

  • @Lee-White Thanks for the advice and ideas. Here is the repaint. I was up late last night and just couldn't find my way through the snow covered trees or the mood that I want to set. This is the third repaint! I need to work on more snow covered trees like these.

    Through the magic of the edit button I added a top image. This one reflects the changes made to the actual painting such as the kids are now seen sticking their tongues out to catch the snow flakes.

    Comments and critiques please. Thanks all for your input so far!


  • SVS OG

    @Rob-Smith It's a huge improvement 🙂 For what it's worth I loved the colours in your original piece, with the pinks added...but the new one is much more accomplished, big difference with the trees. They must be really difficult to paint! I love the turquoise fading out across the page and the snow trails look more natural with the broken lines. I prefer the more saturated version of the latest piece personally (love the saturated turquoise). I don't really have any suggestions, though the one thing I'm not sure about is what the children are doing? (are they looking up in wonder at the falling snow?) Anyway it's beautiful work 🙂

  • @Dulcie I made some changes digitally per your suggestions. Thanks for your input!

  • love your watercolor work as always and yes it looks much better, but for some reason I really want to see at least those character expression even very subtle.

  • SVS OG

    Gorgeous work Rob! Can i send you my snow when it gets here? hehe

  • So far, here in the Northwest we have only seen rain the past couple of weeks. I appreciate everyones comments.

  • I love the new colors, and the idea of the kids sticking their tongues out. However, if you hadn't said that's what they are doing, I'm not sure I would have know. Maybe I would have? When I expand to a larger view I see it. Perhaps a slightly different angle on the kids heads might make it more readable? And perhaps the poses for the 2 kids could be less similar

    But overall a Very very lovely, appealing and charming piece!

  • I love the color you've given the snow!

  • Thanks all for your suggestions. I think what I will do is repose the kids to make their actions clearer. I will do this on a new sheet and then scan it and add it digitally to the image.

  • Pro SVS OG

    This is so pretty Rob, and the colors in your revised piece are really nicely handled. I agree that the tongue, though cute is not reading well and I think a side pose would be much stronger for that particular action.

  • Here is an updated painting. I repainting everything including the sledders.This time I painted the scene on 140 lb Hot Press Arches watercolor paper. I scanned the figures in separately and merged the images in Photoshop. Is this image reading better? Thanks again!


  • Nice work Rob! winter is a great time for beautiful snow paintings...There's one small thing, the threes in the front don't have snow?

  • SVS OG

    Ooooh, this one is best by far! Such beautiful colors! Leontine is right about the snow though hehe

  • Pro SVS OG

    Love the postures here, gives a really nice sense of movement. The colors are wonderful, it's such a hard medium and you are working it well!

  • SVS OG

    For me, there's a wonderful feeling of childhood in this piece 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @Rob-Smith again great work…your skills are so good 🙂 The children are so much better, seeing their faces is much more engaging. I like the colour drift from pink into yellow from the trees, leads your eye down to the children. I also like on this one, the light white highlight on the snow trail in the top corner, small detail but I like it. The one thing that bugs me a bit, not meant to be criticism just a thought…but I did like the way you painted the trees on the second piece…the way you could see the trunk, a few branches, and the snow highlights so precisely painted. I wonder if maybe the middle blue tree on this last piece could use just a couple more snow highlights, a bit like the second piece…might also help to emphasise the light from the right hand side…but it is beautiful work…I think this last piece is the best overall especially in terms of the values and composition…. (zooming out it has good impact at small size)…. and the way it leads your eye across the page 🙂

  • I took everything that you guys pointed out and made some corrections. Thank you!!! Here is the updated painting.


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