View Full Version : How to Paint Texture of Snow?

02-05-2007, 12:03 AM
Hi everyone,
I've been admiring some of the beautiful snow textures in paintings by Robert Bateman and some other wildlife artists. As an artist who is new to painting snow, can anyone explain the technique that is used to create those wonderful textures that Robert Bateman is able to achieve when painting a blanket of new fallen snow? It looks so real!


Donna:cat: :cat:

02-05-2007, 08:17 AM
Hi Donna, I'm familiar with some of Bateman's work and I've read a few descriptions of how he built a painting but this is one of those things that may not be possible for other people to answer: 'you'd have to ask the artists in question' kinda thing.

There are so many variables - surface, brush type, paint consistency, time taken, number of layers/applications used. We can make some educated guesses but we may not cover it all so it's something you'd have to try firsthand, see what works for you.

Anyways, from what I know of Bateman's method I'm sure it's built up meticulously over a number of sessions, certainly over a long period of time. Like most acrylic painters who achieve a certain degree of realism and above he works in stages, building up in layers to the final appearance. Does he work on canvas mostly? If so the weave could play an important part in achieving organic textures.

Without having a decent image of one of the pictures you're looking at that's about all I can suggest. Larry Seiler has seen a few of Bateman's pieces in the flesh so maybe he might have some better insights.


02-12-2007, 11:22 AM
I have attended quite a few of the Birds in Art shows at the Wausau, WI Leight Yawkey Woodson Art Museum..
also, a wildlife artist myself for 20 years professionally...though I've skirted more to painting outdoors the past decade.

So...I've rubbed shoulders with some of these guys, did shows with a few of them. Yes...Bateman and Guy Cohleach were some of the big ones that drew much attention. I actually like the large oil canvases of Cohleach's snow scenes over Bateman...but its one thing to describe, another to stand there and see them.

Bateman...and many others (myself included) did a number of glazes...multiple layers. Some use a medium...which dries clear, and distributes pigment evenly and fine...and you slowly build up to develop a translucency.

Myself...I've used nothing more than water and would build up about 30 layers.

I have one archived thread that shows my approach with acrylics. A thread where I was demonstrating to my son and decided others could benefit...

You can lay an opaque layer of a value plus white down...use a wide soft synthetic paint, mix up another layer of paint, mix with medium (for most that use medium) and brush over. Let dry...(though many speed up the process with a hair drier). Then lay in another layer....then another...another and so forth.

This too is how that affect of mist and fog that Bateman is so well known for. You need a satin or matte finish to pull that soft feeling, as the gloss makes it appear pushed, more artificial. Just buy your medium as a satin or matte...

Part of the illusion is to play the values and detail down and put the focus on the subject. Beefing the subject up so that it draws attention, coupled with an illusion of what is snow helps to convince the eye it is snow. The trick being to keep the eye coming back to the subject.

I loved Cohleach's method as he would paint thin...but in parts of the snow struck by light, I swear he'd use an entire tube of white paint (oil) just to suggest one paint knife spread of it. It came off so stinkin' dimensional!

Bateman's method is to obscure, soften...be mystical. Many semi-transparent layers of applying the paint will lead to that affect. You still use water as well with the medium, and anytime it seems the paint is too streaked...showing brushstrokes, you haven't used enough water. This is one of those patient approaches, and won't work the illusion until many layers are applied.

Important to start one opaque layer.

I always painted dark to light...pick the darkest value you want, slightly darker than you want the area to look like when finished, and with each subsequent semi-transparent layer you apply, a bit more white is added to lighten. Built up carefully and patiently...