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Planning Retirement Online

Art Masterclass - 135

How to paint a snowy log cabin in watercolour with Alison Fennell

January 2018


You will need


  • Saunders Waterford NOT 200gsm Watercolour paper 5x8in.(13x20cm)


  • Synthetic Round brushes Nos. 0, 3, 6 and 8
  • Synthetic profile flat 1⁄2in.


  • A piece of old credit card (about 1 inch square) or any hard plastic

Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour

  • Raw sienna
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Winsor green
  • Cerulean blue
  • French ultramarine blue
  • Burnt sienna
  • Burnt umber



outline drawing of cabin

Draw an outline of the cabin and trees in HB pencil onto the paper.


paint in the background

  1. With the Round No. 8 brush wet the entire sky with clean water, right down to ground level at the base of the cabin. Allow the water to sink in until there is a faint glisten on the paper.

  2. Paint a dilute wash of cerulean blue into the sky, making sure you leave some white. Rock the board from side to side to allow the paint to blend softly then lay it flat.

  3. Quickly mix tree colours in two colour mixes: reddish trees and greenish trees. Mix alizarin crimson with Winsor green, making it more red in hue and quite viscose, and using your 1⁄2in. flat brush paint tree shapes into the area to the left of the cabin. This will bleed softly into the moist paper, giving you soft edges.

  4. Immediately use the side of a credit card to scrape into the paint where a trunk would be to create a white mark.

  5. Mix Winsor green and alizarin crimson – keep this mix on the green side – and paint trees with the same brush around the main body of the cabin and to the far right of it while the paper is still moist.

  6. Again use the credit card to work out trunks and branches here and there. Allow to dry completely.


paint in the snow

  1. On dry paper, add a mid-strength puddle of French ultramarine blue on the roof using the No. 6 brush. Immediately moisten the No. 3 Round and brush around some of the edges of the blue to soften them. Try not to lose too much of the white on the roof.

  2. With the 1⁄2in. flat brush pick up a little water then French ultramarine and mix this on the palette so that the brush is impregnated with slightly thicker paint. Hold the brush low to the paper and carefully drag it along the foreground to deposit patches of blue as you go.

  3. Immediately moisten the Round No. 3 and brush around the edges of the blue patches you just painted to soften them in places. Keep some areas as pure white for the snow. Allow to dry completely.


paint the walls of the cabin

  1. Using the No. 6 Round mix up a mid-strength wash of raw sienna and paint the walls of the cabin.

  2. While still moist, drop in shadow areas under the eaves and to the right-hand corner of the cabin using a mix of burnt umber with a speck of French ultramarine blue. Allow to dry completely.


indicate the logs and door detail

  1. Use the 1⁄2in. flat and a mix of burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue to indicate the logs and door detail.

  2. To paint the chimney, moisten the 1⁄2in. flat, wipe off excess water and use it to rub away a rectangular piece on the roof.

  3. Rinse your brush and use a twisting or wiping action to the right of the chimney into the trees to create the illusion of smoke coming out of the chimney. Pat the area with tissue to take out even more paint.


Log Cabin in Snow, watercolour, 5x8in. (13x20cm)
Log Cabin in Snow, watercolour, 5x8in. (13x20cm)

Finally load the No. 6 brush generously with a dilute mix of French ultramarine blue. Hold it about six inches above your painting and parallel to it and tap your wrist so that droplets of blue scatter randomly over the painting. I think this adds a little touch of caprice and magic to the scene.

Alison Fennell

Find out about Alison and her work by visiting

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