How To Paint Snowman Starry Night
There’s a picture book that I’ve always been fond of because of the beautiful and whimsical illustrations of snowmen doing fun things at night like drinking hot cocoa and having snowball fights!
I used this book as a reference to teach my elementary students how to do “shading” on their snowmen drawings and paintings.
The book is titled Snowmen at Night written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner.
When I was inspired to do a Snowman Starry Night tutorial, I could not help but think of this delightful book!
So, in this tutorial you will be guided through the steps in setting up this simple snow landscape painting.
I think that painting snow and snowmen are easy but we get caught up in how to give light and shadow to something that is supposed to be all white!
I hope that I make it easy for you to learn. Also, if you have kids, they would LOVE to learn how to do this with you as well. Enjoy!
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- Acrylic Paints For this painting I used these paints. Craft paints are always okay to use! The other brand I recommend is the Liquitex Basics brand. It’s a studio/student grade paint and it dries in a nice satin sheen. If you’re doing this in the elementary classroom, tempera paints or “tempera cakes” should be fine too! You can even try this with water colors and have the starry night swirls and moon be oil pastels to create a resist!
- Colors (Listed in Apple Barrel & Liquitex Terms):
- Flag Red (Cadmium Red)
- Jack O’ Lantern (Cadmium Orange)
- Bright Yellow (Cadmium Yellow or Yellow Medium)
- Bright Blue (Cobalt Blue)
- Too Blue (Prussion Blue)
- Navy Blue (Any shade of dark blue)
- White (Titanium White)
- Black (Mars Black)
- Nutmeg Brown (Raw Sienna or Raw Umber)
- Paint brushes of various sizes:
- 2″ Flat
- Small Round
- 1/4″ Flat or 3/4″ Flat
- Canvas (I used a 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas but you can use any size or any object to paint on – rock, wooden board, paper, wall, window…. Water color paper would work too!)
- Water, Easel & Protected Workspace
Directions At A Glance:
Step By Step Picture Directions:
1. Paint The Horizon Line
With the canvas in “landscape” position, I painted the horizon line using a tiny brush and the color “bright blue”. Again, I’m using this brand of paint. The horizon line is about 5″ from the bottom of the canvas.
2. Paint A Wash in the Sky
Then, with a base coat brush (large flat brush), I applied water to the canvas. I wanted my sky to be kind of watered down/ translucent. I painted in up and down strokes.
Tip: when adding water & paint to the canvas like this, lay it flat to prevent the water & paint from dripping. If it does drip below the horizon line, don’t panic! We will be painting all that over later.
Then I applied the “bright blue” color paint with the same up & down strokes. The paint will spread fast and kind of thin because of the water.
You can allow the paint to go below that horizon line a little because it will be painted over white on the bottom!
3. Paint Some Circles In The Sky
Next I got my pure white paint and a small flat brush. Ideally, you should wait until that blue dries a bit but I didn’t wait! Paint a large circle in the upper right (or upper left you’d like) for the moon. Then paint some smaller circles in some random areas around the sky. These are the bases of the stars. Also note, I started from the CENTER of the circle and painted out!
4. Paint Dash Lines
Then I painted some “dash” lines right on the horizon line.
And I painted about four rows of those dashed lines. (mind the shadow of my plate palette in this picture!) These dashes really don’t have to be uniform/neat.
5. Paint A Big Swirl Line
Next I painted dashed lines on the spiral.
6. Paint A Moon & Stars
With bright yellow paint, I painted a moon on that larger circle and I painted small star circles in the other white circles.
7. Paint More Dash Lines
Then I painted yellow dash lines around each star, on the horizon line, on the spiral and around the moon!
8. Paint Orange Moon & Stars
Next I got “Jack O’ Lantern” orange and painted over the moon. I also painted a smaller circle in each of the stars.
9. Paint Orange Dashes
And with that orange, I painted more dash lines on the horizon line, around the moon, around the stars and on that spiral! Note, with these dash lines, some I painted over previously painted dashes, some I made their own row. It’s really up to you! The trick with starry night is to just keep painting layers of the colors with the impressionism “dashed stroke” style.
10. Paint Blue Dashes
Finally, I painted another set of dash lines with the same “bright” blue. It will show up on the background because this one is not watered down like the background was. If yours is not showing up, you can just find a darker blue to use.
I added some spirals going in their own directions.
11. Paint The Snow
Next I painted the snow. Load your palette with bright blue and white. Paint a small bright blue line on the bottom of the painting. I used a medium flat brush (3/4″).
Then I dipped my brush in white (don’t clean the blue off). I painted from the bottom to the horizon. That white faded from blue to white.
12. Paint The Trees
Next I painted trees. This color is Navy Blue. I used a 1/4″ flat brush for this. First paint a vertical line.
\Then paint the branches forming a triangular shaped tree.
Paint a few more trees of varying sizes.
13. Paint The Tree Shadows & Highlights
To paint the shadows, I used watered down navy blue paint and did some “zigzag” lines on the snow.
Then with a tiny brush, I painted some white lines on the trees.
14. Paint The Snowman
Next I painted the snowman! Start out with pure white not mixed with anything! Paint each of the circles. It “should” show up because there should be enough blue in that snow to see each circle.
15. Paint The Snowman Shadow
To do the shadow, I started with painting a line on the left side of each circle. I used the color “too blue”. This is a lighter version of navy blue. If you don’t have that color, a navy blue or dark blue would work.
Then I blended that blue in with the white the same way I did the snow (load your brush with white after painting the blue). Try to make your strokes go in a circle to form the sphere illusion.
Keep blending that blue out until it turns to white. Also, emphasize some dark on the bottom of each circle.
The shadow of the snowman was painted with watered down navy blue (the same color as the trees).
17. Paint The Snowman Face & Accessories
Finally the easy part! I painted the coal with black using a tiny detail brush. No shading involved with this step!
I painted the carrot nose.
The stick arms were painted with nutmeg brown. Also I did the dark area of the carrot with this same brown (totally optional!).
The hat was painted with white and flag red.
The scarf was also painted red. Of course you can customize any of this and do your own style and colors!
And, since I’m secretly obsessed with “buffalo check” pattern, I HAD to do his scarf in buffalo check! This was done simply by painting vertical and horizontal black lines.
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