As children, we grow up believing that snow is white. Of course it’s white. Everybody knows that. However, when we learn to paint, our childhood knowledge can actually deceive us. If we set off to paint snow armed with only a tube of white paint, we won’t get a good result.
Here is a picture of a skiing slope I found on the Internet. It happens to be a section of a slalom course. As you can see, it’s mostly snow.
In my favourite fashion, I decided to get the colour picker out in Paint.NET to see if I could discover what colours I actually needed to include in my paintbox, in order to paint this snow. The colour swatches are below:
What you can see from the colour swatches is that there is a lot of mauve and purple, with some shades of Prussian Blue. The brightest “white” in the picture is actually a grey, with a purple tint. The darkest shadow is next to the lightest white. It’s a very strong blue. These are the colours you actually have to mix on your palette to render the scene in the photograph.
So next time somebody tells you that snow is white, tell them you know better. 🙂