Carve out some time for a real time watercolor painting session with me! Learn to paint snowy trees in a forest with only two watercolor hues – we’ll be creating a variety of colors and values with simple supplies!

I haven’t done a ton of real time videos, because it’s so hard to talk that long without sounding dumb! I did take some breaks and just played music during parts, so hopefully that will keep the silence from getting deafening.

Gather supplies

Whatever brand or hue of watercolors you own, try this with your set! You’ll need a blue – I’ll be using Cobalt Blue, but try any medium tone blue. Then choose a midrange reddish brown; Transparent Red Oxide is in my palette, but feel free to substitute Burnt Sienne or something similar. Note that your mixes might have to change a little based on how they mix so try a few puddles of color to see what it takes to make a warm and a cool gray.

You can paint in a sketchbook like my value study – or try a larger painting. This demo is on a 1/4 sheet of Saunders Waterford Rough.

And then brushes – a big brush for the large wash is a must! The Casaneo brush I’ll be using is a size 20 round;  you’ll need something to paint a lot of water and pigment for that first wash, and a small brush will only cause you frustration. For branches and leaves, medium and smaller brushes are fine….scale according to your painting’s size.

  1. Sketch a day by Lake Michigan Book Press 
  2. Saunders Waterford Rough Sheets 
  3. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  4. Brushes:
  5. House of Hoffman Palette 

Tutorial: Snowy Forest (real time watercolor painting)

Join me in painting along! Feel free to stop the video as you work, I know I paint a little faster than the average bear. 🙂 NOTE: If you are seeing this post BEFORE noon on January 21, then the video below will not play. But I wanted to get this post out there for those who may want to refer to it as we paint along together at noon!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Value Study

Some of you will be creating your value study as we work – I suggest trying this painting small, then paint it large. The small one will help define where each value is placed in the picture – so you get familiar with:

  1. Just how light are the lights?
  2. How dark are the darkest places, and where are they?
  3. What is the color temperature – which are cool and which are warm?

First pass

The objective here is to cover everything in the painting that’s NOT the lightest light. That means anything that’s light, like sky or trees, but not AS white as the snow patch in the distance – all of that is toned back. Keeping it light is key, but not TOO light; you don’t want to have to keep adding more and more layers later.

Second pass

Establish the basic midtones – it needn’t include a lot of detail, that’s for the next step. But now is the time to start defining all the midtone areas and blocking them in. Be thinking about where you’ll want detail coming up, and tell yourself that can be saved for the next pass – or you might overdo it at this blobby stage!

Third pass

Now is the time to indulge your detailed side. I still recommend keeping brushstrokes simple, and don’t try to define every branch, leaf, and blob of snow. You’re creating the impression of this scene, not every detail of the photo reference. That’s a photographer’s job.

Source image

I wish I could remember which Facebook friend sent me this years ago…hopefully they’ll come out of the woodwork and remind me! And maybe get me a higher res image, too. It’s a wee bit fuzzy. Download it here.

Original for sale

You can purchase this painting (unframed) on my fine art website, or a print or framed print at Society6 – I love that they show you how something looks framed!

So….will you be painting along?

Let me know if you plan to or already have! I’m starting a new thread at Artventure to collect all our snowy forests, so be sure to add yours there when you finish!


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Sketch a day by Lake Michigan Book Press 
  2. Saunders Waterford Rough Sheets 
  3. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  4. Brushes:
  5. House of Hoffman Palette 

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  1. Darlene Renshaw-Busch

    It’s beautiful. You never disappoint. God has blessed us with such beautiful nature.

  2. Gab

    This is stunning Sandy

  3. Lori Spitzer

    You are a marvel. I am just astounded at your talent with every. single. post. I love how you explain each step and help us conceptualize.
    Your devoted fan,
    Lori S in PA

  4. Win

    I am actually at a “quilting retreat” tomorrow (although I don’t quilt, I use the time to do other creative things) and am taking up supplies to paint along. Hopefully as I gather stuff from the house today, I won’t forget anything!


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