Painting The Winter Landscape In Watercolor

Online Class

Sundays, December 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021 – 1  to 3 pm Eastern Time

Fee $175

The winter landscape is beautiful, dramatic and surprisingly colorful. We cover it all in this class!

Winter Landscape

The winter landscape is beautiful, dramatic and surprisingly colorful! We cover it all in this class. 

January 3, 2021  – Winter Water

Winter streams are a challenge because they include variation in just about every way.  As with many subjects, the key is in simplification and focusing on key elements and “symbols” that represent water flowing through a winter landscape.

It is important to show the difference between ice and moving water. The key visual difference is that water will be reflective, clearly “flat”, meaning horizontal, and dark in color and value.  On the other hand, ice has, at most, a somewhat reflective sheen, lighter in color and value, and may not be completely flat.  Getting these few things right in a painting is usually enough to create the representation of ‘winter water’.


Select a scene that has a stream flowing through a winter landscape. It can be a photo reference of your own or the photo below.

If you are using this photo, the layout is simple and easy to draw. 

Weekly Critique

Email your pre-class work to me by Thursday evening and it will be included in the weekly critique that will be recorded on Friday. The recorded critique should be available Friday evening.

In Class

We’ll work together on a project based on the painting below. As you can see, the stream has still water that is quite reflective, along with areas of ice on top.  We’ll work hard to represent this scene while simplifying some of the more complex elements.

This scene is a bit complex. A simplified drawing layout can be found the class info download.


December 27, 2020  –  Drama In Light

The key to drama in any scene is in the contrasts. The winter landscape offers a lot of drama.  The sun is low in the sky so there are long shadows nearly all day long. On sunny days, the rich, and fairly dark color in the shadows creates a strong contrast with the brightly lit snow.  As you know from last weeks work, there is also drama in color contrasts between warm light and cool shade and shadow. We’ll work on both this week.


Try to re-create the drama of light in a winter scene. Work from a photo reference: one of your own, one you find online, or use the one below.  Whatever you use as a reference, make sure it has strong value contrast between light and shadow areas – if need be, use a value scale to make sure there are at least two steps of value between the lit snow and the shadows.

If you are using this photo, the layout is simple and easy to draw.  A simplified line layout is in the Week 3 Class Info Sheet.



Email your pre-class work to me by Thursday evening and it will be included in the weekly critique that will be recorded on Saturday morning. A link to the recording will be sent to you late on Friday.


We’ll work together on a project based on the painting below. It is often a challenge to get the value, color and chroma contrast we need in our winter landscape scenes. This project will help with all.

Again, the scene is simple and easy to draw by hand.  To help, if needed, is a simplified line layout in the Week 3 Class Info Sheet.



December 20, 2020  –  Winter Skies

While the landscape is cool and neutral, winter skies are filled with color. We explore that this week.

This week we’ll focus on the winter sky.  Winter skies are surprisingly colorful – they can be the source of the most color in a winter landscape painting.   The sky in your landscape paintings – any season – should be light and airy. The wet-in-wet techniques is perfect for getting the transparency needed to show both.


Use the wet-in-wet technique to create a light, airy and colorful winter sky at sunrise or sunset.  Find a photo of a winter scene with a color sky. It can be a photo of your own, one you find online or use the one in the Week 2 Class Info Download.

The transitions between colors in the sky are soft. The wet-in-wet technique is perfect for soft transitions.

Some of the warmer sky colors are reflecting in the snow.  It will be tempting to include that color  in the painting.  Feel free to do so, but it is a good idea to minimize the amount of warmth in what is supposed to be snow in shadow.


Email your pre-class work to me by Thursday evening and it will be included in the weekly critique that will be recorded. A link to the recording will be sent to you late on Friday.


We’ll work together on a project based on the photo in the class info sheet.  Photos are good for reference but can be unforgiving masters that push us to copy exactly and include every detail.   In class we’ll talk about using photos as a jumping-off-point and how to free yourself from the impulse to duplicate.

Also, this photo has tire tracks and foot prints in the snow. I’ll do a quick demo on capturing these two elements that are so common in winter snow scenes.

Again, the scene is pretty simple and easy to draw. There is a simplified pencil layout on the last page.


December 13 , 2020  –  Snow

Snow is soft and cool. Pretty simple! We’ll work on getting the right look this week.

Pre-Class Work 

Painting Techniques For The Winter Landscape

There are two important watercolor painting techniques you should be really good at no matter the subject. 

Most folks know about the wet-in-wet technique.  The other is less well known but is no less important.  It is the dry-in-wet technique.  Both techniques result in a loose, fluid application of paint that ensures glowing, transparent washes.  They also create soft edges and texture as well as subtle changes in color. 
Get a good handle on these techniques by following along these two video lessons:
Color For The Winter Landscape
The winter landscape is surprisingly warm with warm greys and browns. While the colors are warm, they are also mostly neutral or neutral versions of brighter colors.
We’ll use some bright colors for our work but usually in lighter ‘tints’ or neutrals.  For the most part our basic color set will consist of three blues, some neutral earth tones and a cool red.   We’ll add some other, brighter colors as class progresses.
For this week these are the colors you’ll want to have available
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Cerulean Blue – this is a special and unique (and relatively expensive) color, but there is no subtitute for it’s virutues! To be sure you are getting the right one watch this – Choosing The Right Cerulean Blue Watercolor Paint | Watercolor Methods
Burnt Sienna – Burnt Umber is OK as well
Raw Sienna – Yellow Ochre or Raw Umber works as well
*Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet – this is a somewhat unusual color, that many folks don’t have on their palette. You can substitute a mixture of Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna.
Cadmium Red Light – this is a bright red color that doesn’t fit well in the winter landscape straight up. But, in light washes it is great for creating a warm glow in winter skies.
This video gives a good overview of basic supplies and materials for watercolor painting 
Get these two layouts drawn on paper for our class painting projects.

In Class

 We’ll answer questions on the pre-class work and work on our two projects.  


soft new fallen snow in watercolor


January 3, 2021  – A Winter Theme

This is the week to pull together a winter composition of your own combining the ideas and techniques from the previous three weeks. 
You have the option of working from reference photos of from a real Vermont winter or from one of your own photos.  Either way, create a painting from the reference and then send a copy for critique.  Please have the image to my by Thursday evening, December 31st. . I’ll film a session critiquing and offering suggested changes for each painting. Once finished I’ll upload and make it available to the class.  
In Class
We’ll review the pre-class work and the recorded critique session.  I’ll work through this project.  You are welcome to follow and paint-along with this one or strike out on a composition of your own. 
In general, I like folks to use the materials they are familiar with.  So, no need to stock up on more stuff – fun though it is!   
There are some really good colors and combination of colors that work really well for winter scenes – they are listed below. We will be working with very wet washes, especially at the beginning of the painting.  Arches 140 Cold Press paper will help you manage all that water! I recommend investing in that paper if you don’t have it already. 
Suggested colors for winter landscapes:
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet
Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Cerulean Blue


Download a comprehensive suggested watercolor materials list. Use it as a guide – no need to purchase everything on the list. Working with what you are used to will help your learning.  I’ll make suggestions for good supplementary materials during class.

Download class info sheet here.

Questions About the Class?

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About The Instructor

Tony Conner is an accomplished watercolorist and and experienced instructor. His  energetic approach to teaching and enthusiasm for the watercolor medium are combined to create classes that are both fun and informative.  He excels at providing information and insights to individual students – meeting them where they are and helping them get to where they want to go.

Professional Memberships

  • Signature Member - New England Watercolor Society
  • Signature Member - Vermont Watercolor Societies
  • Artist Member - Salmagundi Club
  • Artist Member - North Shore Arts Association

Tony works from his studio in Bennington, Vermont.

What Other Students Say

I've take several workshops, some taught by prominent and well-known artists. Tony's was, by far, the best in it's quality, approach and teaching style. The small class formate facilitated learning.” - Jane C. , Setauket, NY

Of all the instructors I have seen, you are the most informative. Your method of teaching is so easy to follow and absorb. I wish I lived close enough to attend your classes. You are also a very patient, approachable person . All excellent, Tony!” - Catherine M. , Ontario, CN

I have learned more in this two-day workshop, than in all other watercolor classes I’ve taken” - Rita S. , MA

" Thought there was a perfect balance between theory & practice.  The points you wanted to stress were given clearly & concisely.  You are so passionate about your work.  I have come home energized & enthusiastic - which is exactly what I wanted from the workshop.  " - S. H., Saline, MI

"I've taken several watercolor workshops, some taught by prominent and well known artists. Tony's workshop was by far the best in its quality, approach, and teaching style. The small class format facilitated learning." - J. C., Setauket, NY

" Tony is a wonderful, knowledgeable teacher who shares with warmth and humor" - J. M, Astoria, NY

" Overall, the three days were amazing. I find myself looking at everything in terms of value. " - A. C., Bloomfield, NJ

"...but, Tony Conner has thought of it all, organized it perfectly, and made it fun and inspiring." - G. B., New York, NY