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Jan 12, 2022
We asked these artists, “What color is snow?”

As a viewer, as an artist, what color is snow?

Cap Pannell: Snow is affected by the color of the sky or the topography of the landscape so you can have snow of pale blues, blinding whites, grays, lavenders, dark blues and purples. In return falling snow colors the sky, usually to pink.

Leon Loughridge: Icelandic locals say there are a hundred ways to say snow which means there are plenty of ways to describe snow, if you are in Iceland. I always thought that snow was always this white fluffy stuff we get to ski in here in Colorado. Then I went skiing in Connecticut on what they called snow. It looked like chunks of ice to me. So, I guess we do have our distinctions of snow, even if we are spoiled here in Colorado. Wander through the paint-sample aisle and one will be amazed at the choices of white. I am surprised how dark one can make a white and still have it read as a white. Look at paintings by Juaquin Sorolla to see a master of white.

Peter Campbell: Snow is just part of the water motif that I enjoy the most because any type of water – rivers or clouds, snow or fog have their challenges. Water in any form doesn’t follow the usual light play and rules of solid objects. So, in technical terms, we always perceive snow as being white, but if you examine a snowflake you see it is transparent and faceted like little prisms. So, it is transmitting white light in all directions making piles of snowflakes look white. That white then reflects whatever color is cast upon it – so in the shadows on a sunny day the snow will reflect the blue sky, or at sunset they may reflect a warmer sky. In the light it reflects warm sunlight that makes shadows seem even bluer by contrast.  On grey days, my favorite type of snow days, the muted colors of winter take on less saturated colors and tints that are subtle and beautifully calming. The color palette becomes more emotive and lends the viewer to be more contemplative.

Veryl Goodnight: Snow reflects all surrounding colors, particularly the sky. It is seldom what we think of as “White.”  I choose color through observation. We live at 7,600’ feet on the west side of the La Plata Mountains near Mancos, Colorado. As I type this it is snowing and the sky is a pale warm grey. The snow is lighter than the sky by it is what skiers refer to as “flat light.” I just took out a piece of “Bright White” printer paper outside and laid it on the snow away from the house so as not to get reflected color. This is a good way to determine actual color and value. 

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  • Artists
  • Cap Pannell
  • Leon Loughridge
  • Peter Campbell
  • Veryl Goodnight
  • Videos
  • Color of snow
  • landscape
  • snowscape
  • winter