How Do I Get The Snow To Break When Painting Mtns?

Darrell. I have a question on mountains. I have your video. When you go to highlight your mountain, is there quite a bit of paint on the edge of the knife? I talked to a certified TV instructor and she says there is a lot of paint on the edge; that that is the only way you can get the highlight to break as you go down the mountain? Is that true??? –Loren

Hi Loren,
You’re actually asking two questions…..(1) How do I get the snow to break when painting mountains? and (2) how thick should I have the bead of paint on the edge of a palette knife?

Yes, you do need to have a good bead of paint on the edge of the knife. Is it Large or small? Mine is typically 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Any larger and the bead will work against you.

Let me explain the concept behind painting with a knife.

The knife’s small edge is the only surface that comes into contact with the canvas, so the only way you can paint with it is by having a bead that looks like a small welding bead along the length of the knife. As you paint with the knife, the paint quickly transfers to the painting surface. The bead helps you to keep the knife edge loaded with paint so you can paint longer. The larger the bead, the longer you can paint without reloading.

Imagine for a second you holding your knife at a 90 degree angle to the canvas. As you move across the canvas the paint is transferred from the edge onto the canvas. Before long you’re out of paint. The only way to have more paint is by lowering your handle of the knife until its almost flat up against the canvas. This means you’re using a lot of pressure to force paint off the knife and the paint is coming from halfway up the knife. Neither gives you the control you need. So a good bead is essential to keep your knife supplied with paint.

Getting the white paint to break is a matter of little to no pressure on the knife. Using no pressure, simply guide the knife along the mountain. The canvas will take what it needs as the knife passes over causing the paint to break, giving the broken snow affect.

So when painting snow on a mountain using a palette knife, use a 1/8″ or slightly larger bead of paint and little to no pressure as you apply to the side of the canvas.