These snowy days

These snowy days are great for experimenting in studio. When the art store was out of Arches Rough paper last week I bought some assorted full sheets to play with: one sheet each of Winsor & Newton Rough, Fabriano Rough, Strathmore Gemini, and Strathmore Imperial, all 140 lb. I’ve torn them down into half sheets and quarter sheets, and since the snow is falling too quickly to paint in my car, I’ve been experimenting.

I love Montreal’s lanes and alleys in winter. You can’t really see much of them from your car, but if you park and explore on foot, you’ll find some wonderful spots. I did a bit of that yesterday and came home with some photo references to use. Today I tried Fabriano rough to paint this scene of the lane that runs between Prince Arthur and Milton in the McGill ghetto.

I’m a fan of both Fabriano cold press and soft press paper, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried this rough stock before. It’s quite pebbly and the texture reminds me of some sheets of handmade paper I bought as few years ago from Papeterie Saint-Gilles in Charlevoix. It has a surface that has a certain smoothness, despite being rough, and that makes it easy to lift and correct. Have you ever used Fabriano Rough? I’d love to hear what you think.

Update to my original post: I have been asked how I do the trees, whether I use white paint or simply leave the whites of the paper. Below is a detail so you can see. As much as possible, I try to leave the white of the paper. You can see those areas because the pencil lines are still there. But when I need more snow on branches, or to break up a dark area, I use some Titanium White watercolour. I’m sure you can spot the lines of that too.

31 Comments on “These snowy days”

  1. karim waked says:



    514 9944433


  2. Theresa Lee says:

    Hello Shari , I was wondering what you use for all the branches on the trees .


  3. jeremc1maccom says:

    All the white is paper right?
    Amazing Shari
    I’m going to try


  4. friedakam says:

    Beautiful colors on the bus


  5. Bernadette says:

    Very dynamic in color and value contrast….❤️, it’s a beauty!


  6. Bernadette says:

    The tree, laden with snow is exquisite! I wonder about your process. Is the tree done prior to the building? Beautifully captured snowy scene!


    • That was a complex problem to figure out. I wanted just a suggestion of the building in the background. I drew everything carefully and then painted the washes for the building, saving some whites for the snow on the branches. Then I painted the darker branches under the snow. And then I added a bit of white watercolour to get more snowy branches. I updated my original post with a closeup of the branches:


  7. Ruth says:

    How do you do those branches?


  8. Linda Murray says:

    Wow!! Yes, how did you do the branches? This is just awesome👍


  9. Northern Traveller says:



  10. SueNseattle says:

    Fabriano rough bright white is the only paper I use. I’ve tried many others but always go back to it. Dry brushing on the rough texture gives some nice effects. Granulating paints fall into the nooks of the texture also creating interest. The bright white paper gives transparency a boost 🌞


  11. I tried it once for a poured technique painting. I do a lot of making when I pour layers upon layers of liquid paint (pigment mixed with water in cups). The colors poured across the surface of the paper looked beautiful and I was excited to see what the entire painting would look like when I removed the mask. A disaster it turned out! The top surface of the paper tore off when I removed the mask. Dang! I thought I had a really lovely painting. My conclusion: It is too soft to accept large areas of mask without tearing when the mask is removed. I used Incredible White Mask the same brand I always use. I have never had that problem with Arches paper and I have tried all the surfaces; rough, cold press and hot press.


    • Sandy, this is interesting to hear. I know your process is quite complex, and wow, that must have been so discouraging after all the work you put into the painting. Yikes. I have a friend who uses packing tape to mask his paintings and he only uses Arches as well. He says it’s the only paper that doesn’t tear when he removes the tape. Good to know!


      • And for those of us out there who use a lot of masking in their technique, stay way from Saunders paper too. When I tried a sheet of Sanders the flowing liquid poured paint bled right under the mask. Sot the dome on a tower that I wanted to be white ended up with a very fuzzy edge. A dome with a Santa Claus beard! Funny, but not what I was looking for,


  12. Monique says:

    You make everything beautiful.
    I have to look at your Landscape class again and again.I find I am less than novice at trees etc..This is fabulous.As for paper I try everything lol..I just bought some Saunders and I like the lifting but for my quick art it’s not right.Happy New Year and thank you for all the ART inspiration..always.


  13. Cindy Johnson says:

    Thanks so much, Shari, for giving letting us know of the paper and your techniques – for all your posts, not just this one. Don’t think I’ve written a comment before, but I love your paintings, all through the year, and am impressed as to how you sit in the car to paint in inclement weather. I live in North Carolina, in the U.S., and no one would think of even leaving the house when there is snow.
    I love how you don’t let anything stop you from painting. It just seems to give you motivation and inspiration.
    Thank you for sharing your creative journey.


    • Cindy, thanks so much for writing. I appreciate it so much!
      As for winter painting, in Montreal we are so used to the cold and the snow so that doesn’t stop us. If it did we would stay indoors for about 5 months of the year!! Plus we have winter tires on which makes it easier to get around.
      Happy new year!!


  14. Impressive snowy branches!!! Wow!!! Thanks for sharing your work with us and explaining how you did the snow. Many thanks for all the inspiring work this year!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s