Step by step demonstration... Winter trees and snow - Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire

"Silver Birch on Froggatt Edge" Froggatt Edge, Derbyshire.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2007.
A simple painting of some Silver Birch trees made much more interesting by a covering of snow and helped by some lovely shadows created by a low afternoon sun.

Stage One:
The top picture shows the end of stage one, the under painting. The objective was to establish the sky, the distant background hills, the main areas of light and shadow on the snow. Also indicated, but loosely, are the positions of the main tree trunks and some of the denser areas of twigs, loosely brushed over the sky, along the lines of dry brushing.

Stage Two:
This started with the distant trees and hills. Mainly indicating the trucks plus main branches of the trees and bringing back or re-establishing some sky colour.
Next was the painting of the foreground line of trees, painting the main trucks and branches first before moving onto the smaller ones. Additional colours were then added to the bracken and heather that hadn't been covered by snow, being under the trees, before moving on to the snow.
Beginning with the band of snow behind the foreground trees, as the shadow snow colour was already established only the areas being caught by the sunlight needed to be painted, along with one or two dark patches where the bracken was showing through.

Moving to the foreground snow. The shadows from the trees were established first, using either shadow and/or highlight colours. As can be seen in the top picture, there's some indication of where the sun is catching the snow and this was used as a guide when painting in all the lit parts of snow, some hard edges, some soft. All the dark patches of bracken etc were then painted before adding a range of lighter, darker or colour variations over possibly two thirds of the snow that was in shadow. Lastly some details like tall grasses etc were added.