How to Paint Icicles

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Icicles can be a beautiful subject for paintings. Capturing the special way that icicles bend and reflect light takes some practice, but if you follow some essential guidelines you will soon be able to produce lovely results. Painting icicles well requires good quality paints, especially the white paint which painter Lorraine Vatcher recommends as the basis of the icicle painting. Your white needs to be dense and brilliant. Cheaper paints contain less pigment and cheaper fillers that can look muddy. This makes the whole painting less brilliant. Artist-quality paints will give stronger results.

Things You'll Need

  • Artist's acrylic paints (Titanium White, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Diazinon Purple, Windsor Blue, Payne's Gray)
  • Round brush, medium
  • Round brush, small
  • Liner brush
  • Block in your icicles. Blocking in means to paint the general shape of an element as a block of solid color. Decide how many icicles you want to add and where you'll paint them, then block them in by applying a long, tapered line of Titanium White using a round brush. Make sure your icicles are pure white; this might require more than one layer of paint.

  • Apply dabs of Payne's Gray lightly down the length of the icicle to suggest shadows in the ice. Mix a little of the gray into some Titanium White to make a pale gray and dab this in patches down the length of the icicle in the same way. Mix a very little Windsor Blue into some Titanium White to make a light blue, and dab along the length of the icicle again. Don't paint the outside edges of the icicle. These should remain completely white.

  • Apply very tiny scraps of yellow here and there on the icicle. Do the same with tiny dots of purple and red. Be very sparing. The idea is to suggest light being broken up into rainbows by the clear ice. Too much color will spoil the effect.

  • Mix a very faint wash of Titanium White. Using a small round brush, begin painting sparkles of light on the icicles. Place the brush in the middle of the sparkle and sweep outward. Make a circle of light rays. Repeat using a stronger wash of white, then dashes of pure white. Add small dashes of red, yellow and purple wash, and a few sparing dots of color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make your icicles different sizes for a more natural effect. An odd number of icicles generally lends itself to a more pleasing composition.
  • When mixing light colors, add the color to the white paint a little bit at a time. Always make sure that your brush is completely clean as even a trace of the previous color can muddy the tone you are mixing.

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References

  • Photo Credit icicle image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com
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