Red Barn in Snow – Beginner Watercolor Tutorial

Watercolor Painting for online tutorial Red Barn in Snow for Beginners

Beginners will learn a lot with this classic red barn in snow watercolor tutorial! For the messy but effective method of snow painting, start with lots of color, then lift off where you want the snow the lightest. This will give you perfect soft shading, and lifting the lighter areas is quick, easy and effective for any snow scene. Opaque white is great for touch up and those fun details, like icicles and snow on trees. And who doesn’t love a red barn?

Downloads for Red Barn Basic Watercolor

Suggested Colors for Red Barn in Snow

  • Red – any red, Alizarin Crimson recommended
  • Blue – Ultramarine and Cerulean recommended, Cobalt or other blues – do a test on scrap paper to see which you like best
  • Yellow – any yellow will work
  • Gold – optional for mixing greens
  • Brown – burnt sienna or most browns
  • Opaque white – any kind, I use Pro White by Daler rowney
  • Dark Green – we’ll be mixing dark green. If you use Hooker’s – add red or black to darker as needed.

Suggested Misc. Supplies

Masking tape, razor blade, wash brush, misting spray bottle, Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, Backboard to place painting on while wet.

Step by Step Instructions for Red Barn in Snow

Watercolor Painting for online tutorial Red Barn in Snow for Beginners

Step 1 – Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

(Click here for more information on making and using graphite paper.)

Tip – place your paper on a backing board so you can easily pick up the wet paper to turn it to help with blending. For best results, don’t tape your paper down.

Step 2 – Mask the red barn roof with tape.

Masking tape on barn roof for watercolor tutorial red barn in snow for beginners

Test a piece of scrap paper with tape first to be sure that the paper won’t tear when you remove the tape

Tear masking tape pieces longer than the barn roof and cover the area with tape. Hold the sharp end of a razor against the line of the roof side and tear the extra tape off. Smooth down the edges.

(Click here for more info on masking.)

Step 3 – Tone the paper to set the stage for your red barn watercolor painting.

Toning the paper with a watercolor wash for Red Barn in Snow tutorial
This is going to be messy but turns out well.
  • Wet your paper evenly damp. Wet the back and the front so the paper will stretch evenly and lay flat.
  • Mix a concentrated wash of light blue (more water) for the middle and darker blue (more paint) for the rest.
  • Paint on color around the edges.
  • Turn your paper for smooth blending or to keep the darker paint at the top and bottom. Use gravity to create smooth blends. (This takes practice.)
  • Paint doesn’t move? – add a spritz with a misting bottle to add more liquid.
  • Paint runs off? – add more paint to your puddle.
  • Wipe excess water from the edges and dry.

If yours dries too light, repeat.

Step 4 – Add wet on wet background trees in the distance on the left.

Wet on wet background trees for watercolor tutorial red barn in snow for beginners
I ended up with a bloom!

Rewet the area above the horizon line with clean water.

Mix a puddle of color for the trees – brown, brown + blue or brown + purple (red + blue) .

Paint the tree masses and let the edges fuzz out.

For Bare Trees – Scratch into the still wet paint with anything sharp to create bare trees.

Don’t forget to Paint a little between the house and pine tree with the same color.

Step 5 – Paint the trees so they are not all alike.

Painting the trees for Red Barn in Snow for beginners watercolor tutorial

Mix a puddle of dark green (Perylene green or mix dark blue with yellow or gold) and a puddle of black (dark blue + brown).

The biggest pine tree is dark green at the top and lighter as you go down. Start at the top with dark green and pick up a little water in your brush as you paint down towards the bottom

Make the tree beside it seem farther away by adding some blue to your green.

Paint the tree on the left of the barn lighter at the top and darker at the bottom.

Paint the short pine tree in front the darkest of all.

Step 6 – Draw or Paint the bare trees with thin lines.

Paint the bare trees with brown or black, using a small brush, ink pen or a special brush for thin lines (called a Rigger/Liner/Script brush.)

If you want some dry leaves on the tree, use a fairly dry brush to dab some on.

Step 7 – Lifting Color with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser

Lifting watercolor with Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser for Snow Highlights

Remove the masking tape from the barn roof. If any paint crept in under the tape, use a damp Mr. Clean’s magic eraser to wipe it off.

Wet the eraser and squeeze out all the water so it’s just damp. Gently wipe the area where you want to lift color. Once you have picked up color on your eraser, rinse it out so you don’t rub the lifted paint back into the paper.

Lift off color from the top of the hill, in front of the house and two lanes in the road.

Lift smoke from chimney – use Mr. Clean or a damp brush in a circular motion to rewet the area above the chimney, then dab up the reactivated paint with a paper towel.

Step 8 – Paint the red barn in snow.

Painting Red Barn in snow and trees for watercolor tutorial

Mix a puddle of red and a puddle of dark red (red + black).

Paint the dark red on the right side of the barn, under the eave in the front and a little foundation in the bottom of the front.

Use lighter red to paint the front of the barn. To suggest wood lines – while it’s still wet, use a damp brush to draw horizontal lines in the wet wash or scratch in lines like you did with the trees.

Step 9 – Paint the house for Red Barn in Snow

The house can be any color you like. Paint the front of the house light and the right side darker. Put a light in the window with yellow.

Step 10 – Suggested finishing details for Beginners.

Evaluate your watercolor painting – stand back and look at it or take a photo on your phone so you can see it with fresh eyes.

Areas Too light – give it another coat of paint.

Areas Too dark – use lifting or opaque white to lighten anything that is too dark.

Other details you might want to add –

  • a fence
  • snow on the front pine tree
  • grasses in the foreground
  • tire tracks in the road
  • icicles hanging down from the roof
  • a white sun or moon in the sky, or clouds.
  • falling snow indicated with spattering

Summary for Red Barn in Snow

All snow is white, but in a painting, snow needs shading and shadows. Starting with the shading on snow scenes, and using Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser to lift can easily give you beautiful snow shading the easy (and maybe messy) way. And you can’t go wrong with a red barn…

I can say things with color and shapes that i couldn't say any other way -Georgia O'Keeffe