How to Paint a Winter Scene

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Today, I am receiving a feature in Hometalk and I am thrilled. If you are coming over from Hometalk…WELCOME!!! Thank you so much for checking out my project. I hope you will check out the rest of my website. Subscribing would be greatly appreciated as I am starting out and would love for you to see all the fun and beautiful projects I have coming up.

So let’s get to this project. I have had this mirror for many years waiting for a special project and and finally it came to me! A breathtaking winter scene!!! Our new home needed a slender but tall piece of artwork and this mirror would make the perfect base. I envisioned a glittery winter scene and the end product did not disappoint. It was so easy! No lie, I am going to show you how to paint a pretty scene and I think anyone could do it.

1. Prepare the mirror

Give the wooden frame a good sanding if there is any clear coat on it so that the paint will adhere. Wipe off the dust from the frame and then use a good glass cleaner to prep the glass for painting.

Mirror before

First, we will paint the frame. Mask off the mirror with tape and plastic so that no overspray gets on it.

Mirror covered

2. Spray the frame

I used Rust-Oleum’s Chalked Ultra Matte paint in Charcoal as I did not want any sheen on the frame. I had used this paint on other projects and fell in love with it because it left a perfectly flat finish that looked so rich.

Chalk paint

Spray lightly to ensure that you do not get any runs. Allow it to dry (approximately 2 hours) and spray another coat. Let dry 24 hours.

Mirror frame black

Use a blade to cut between the tape and the frame to ensure a clean border. Gently remove the tape and film.

Mirror frame painted

3. Create your scene

I wanted an evening scene in the forest with the moon shining brightly above. I looked through photos of forests to check the colors so that I could achieve depth. I found that the trees furthest away were light greys and that the trees got darker in color the closer they were. I wanted this to be a simple project, so I was not looking to depict trees accurately in great detail, but rather in a simple form. Below is a piece of art that will give you an idea of what I was hoping to achieve.

Winter forest

Search the internet for scenes that you like and print them off to be guides. Sketch out your design roughly on a piece of paper so that you can refer to it and then begin to transfer the design elements to the mirror. Here is my plan for the mirror – please don’t laugh, when I say a rough plan, I mean a rough plan. I just sketch out the basics and go from there.

Sketch of winter scene

Place painters tape on the black frame where it meets the mirror so that you can paint freely and not worry about messing up the frame. It is important to wait at least 24 hours from painting the frame so that when you put painters tape on the fresh paint it will not harm it. I actually allowed the frame to dry for about 3 days as I was working on other projects.

4. The Moon

The first element I transferred was the moon. I used a large bowl and flipped it upside down against the mirror and traced the circle with a silver marker. It is very important to select a marker that will be good enough to see but light enough that it won’t bleed into your paint and discolor it. For a white moon, you should not choose a black sharpie but a silver metallic marker was perfect. Below is a photo of the mirror and you can lightly see the tracing of the moon. Click here for a link for the silver marker.

Circle on mirror

The next step is step is to completely paint the moon. I had to do this is several light layers to get an even coverage. As my mirror is quite larger and the other elements are hills of snow and a white birch tree, I got a large tube of good quality acrylic paint. Here is a link for the paint. I used a sponge brush to get the job done more quickly. Remember to let it dry completely in between layers and do not press to hard as you will end up removing the previous coat from the mirror.

5. Background trees

In the photo below you will see that I taped up several graphics of trees in the style I was looking for. I find this handy as a reference guide. For this section you will need three shades of paint, a light grey, a medium grey and a black. Start with the trees that are the furthest away and use the light grey paint. I used a size 0 paint brush for the trees. Here is a link for the paint brush. Let the paint dry. Then add medium grey trees and let them dry. Lastly do a few black trees, which will make them appear closer. Make sure there is a variety of trees – tall ones, short ones, some with thicker, denser branches, some with wispy branches, and some in between.

Painting #1

6. Rolling hills covered in snow

I created rolling hills of snow by using the white paint and a sponge brush. I started at the bottom and made sure that at the top of the hill the paint was the thickest and it faded to the bottom of the hill. This creates dimension between the hills. If you are a more advance painter, you could add shading between the hills to give it more definition. For this project, I truly wanted it to be simple and not too fussy so I simply left it with the white fading out to the bottom and in between each hill.

7. Birch tree

On the right hand side you will see that I have lightly began to form the birch tree. If you have ever seen a birch tree, you will know that their bark is like paper and it can peel off in sections like thick ribbon. Using a wide sponge brush for this application in a swooping motion will result in what looks like birch bark.

Painting #2

Load your sponge brush in a slightly light fashion. As you will see the edges are very light and the paint is a bit thicker in the middle.

paint on sponge brush

Start at the bottom and on the left side of the tree as we are going to make the paint the thickest on this side so it stands out beside the snow. Drag the sponge brush to the right in a slightly swooping fashion to create the roundness of the tree.

starting at edge of tree

As you will see in the photo below the paint looks very patchy and dragged on. You can go back and give some more coverage but always make sure the left side of the tree is the thickest, and make sure there are plenty of drag marks to create the look of birch bark.

paint at middle of tree

Allow some areas to see through to the mirror (those are the darker spots you see below). Birch bark has white areas and darker areas, it even has some black running through it which we will add later.

birch tree

Continue working your way up the tree to the top.

8. Haze around the moon

To create the haze around the moon, we will be using a dry brush technique. I used a size 8 paint brush (link here). I dabbed the brush into white paint and then ran the brush back and forth on a paper towel to remove the excess. I then lightly painted the haze around the moon. It is best to start off very light and add more until you are happy with the look. As you paint around and around the moon, make sure that the haze gets lighter and lighter the further you are away from the moon until there is none at all.

haze on moon

9. Finishing Touches

First add a few more trees in black on a few of the hills more up front. Spend some time with these trees and give them more details – fine branches, hanging boughs, dead branches, height, and thicker trunks.

closer trees

Next add random stripes of black to the trunk of the birch tree. I have noticed that sometimes the birch bark has opened up in areas. To give this effect paint an oval on it’s side with lines extending from it. Make sure the oval is not perfect, make it a little rough. Always make sure that the lines of black a slightly swooping to give the illusion of a rounded tree.

Black part of birch

Next add branches. I base coated the branch in very thick paint, that was the lightest of greys. I created this paint by taking one part of my lightest grey paint and adding it to two parts of the pure white and mixing them together. Painting this on very heavily gave the whole picture a little more dimension as the branches started to lift off of the back ground.

I then mixed an ample amount of pure white paint with white glitter to form the snow. Keep adding the glitter so that basically the paint is just there to hold it in place and it is a very glittery substance. I placed the glittery snow very heavily on the top of the branches. Think logically of where snow would land and where it might build up, such as were two branches meet and form a bit of sheltered area.

close up on branch

branch glitter

I painted two black two small birds cuddling on a branch that runs in front of the moon so they were silhouetted and became the focal point. The birds are created by painting two round circles at the top for their heads, an oval in the middle for their bodies and narrow triangles for their tails.

birds on mirror

Here is the finished product! Doesn’t it look great? I love that it is a unique piece that no one else has in their home. You will be even more satisfied because it will be your creation! If, however, you are not up for this project, I have linked some great art up below, as well as some beautiful home decor and even all of the art supplies I use. So please keep scrolling and once again, don’t forget to subscribe – I would be so grateful!!!

Also if you want to see what our whole house looked like last Christmas, click this link. Or if you want to see a whole blog filled with some of my favorite holiday decor for this year is, please click this link…you are going to love them!!!

Thanks for staying till the end – please drop me a comment below as I love hearing from you!

Trees on mirror

Winter Art

Winter Decor

Art Supplies for this project and others


What do you think?

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  • Linda+Johnston
    November 19, 2021

    Chystal, thissis do originally creative! I love it!

    • Crystal
      November 19, 2021

      Thank you so very much Linda!!!

  • Marieza
    November 19, 2021

    I absolutely love this idea! So unique and creative! Just perfect for winter. Well done, my friend!

    • Crystal
      November 19, 2021

      Thank you so very much Marieza! Your comment means so much to me!!!

  • melba
    November 20, 2021

    I have never seen this done before! So cute Crystal!

    • Crystal
      November 20, 2021

      Thanks so much Melba! I hadn’t seen it either but thought I would give it a try!

  • Marie
    November 20, 2021

    You are so creative Crystal! I never would have thought to do this. Happy hopping1

    • Crystal
      November 20, 2021

      Thanks so much Marie! I would have never thought of using cardboard as the base for a wreath – ingenious!!! Happy hopping to you too!

  • Bentley
    November 20, 2021

    You make look easy. It turned out great!
    I think I’ll leave the painting to you though. 😁

    • Crystal
      November 22, 2021

      Thank you very much!

  • Wendy McMonigle
    November 22, 2021

    This is really amazing Crystal, you are so talented. I love how you chose to paint this on a mirror, it adds such dimension to the painting.

    • Crystal
      November 22, 2021

      Thank you so very much Wendy! I truly appreciate your kind words!!!

  • Christin
    November 23, 2021

    Gorgeous!! What a fun idea!!

    • Crystal
      November 26, 2021

      Thanks so much Christin! It was such a fun project!

  • Liberty
    November 24, 2021

    It’s gorgeous!!

  • Jennifer Williams
    November 24, 2021

    Your project turned out beautifully. It is unique and lovely in your home.

    • Crystal
      November 27, 2021

      Thank you so very much Jennifer!!!

  • Cindy
    November 24, 2021

    Such a great job! Love it!

    • Crystal
      November 26, 2021

      That makes me so happy to hear that you love it! Thank you

  • Paula@SweetPea
    November 25, 2021

    You did an amazing job on this! What you created is absolutely gorgeous.

    • Crystal
      November 26, 2021

      Thank you so very much! Painting on a mirror is a lot of fun and the results are lovely!

  • Elizabeth@pineconesandacorns
    November 26, 2021

    This is so beautiful!

    • Crystal
      November 27, 2021

      Thank you so very much Elizabeth!

  • Traci Uptain
    November 27, 2021

    Your so talented! Thank you for sharing this beautiful project with us!! It’s very inspiring!

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      Thank you so very much for such a lovely comment Traci! I appreciate it greatly!!!

  • Cindy
    November 28, 2021

    Omgoodness, this is so gorgeous! And it looks like it was fun too! Pinning 😊

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      Thank you so very much Cindy! It was fun and very easy!!!

  • Becky
    November 28, 2021

    It is beautiful!!

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      Thanks so much! Glad you liked it!

  • Lydia Lyn Falk
    November 28, 2021

    Great idea. Thorough instructions!

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      Thank you so very much!!!

  • Carmen Heyer
    November 28, 2021

    Love the mirror! Please sign me up for your emails!
    I loved the details of HOW you painted the scene. With your tips I believe I could do it!

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      I am so happy that you loved the project. To sign up please come back to my website and at the very bottom is a subscribe area where you can fill in your name and email. I would love it if you subscribed!!!

  • Carolyn
    November 28, 2021

    I think it’s great. The only change I would make is to not have the branches of the birch tree totally white as snow doesn’t fall on the underside of trees.

    • Crystal
      November 28, 2021

      Thanks Carolyn. Regarding the branches, as I explained in the tutorial, the branches are a very light grey. Perhaps the photos brighten them up to make them look lighter than they are. I also explained that the snow is pure white with white glitter and that you would only put it where snow would logically fall. I placed it on the top of the branches and showed close ups of it. The birch trees in our area are very white and their branches are only slightly darker, a very light grey.

  • Tyke
    November 29, 2021


  • Ticia
    December 3, 2021

    You are so talented; it came out fabulous.

    • Crystal
      December 3, 2021

      Thank you so very much Ticia! I really appreciate you lovely comment!

  • Cindy
    January 6, 2022

    your ideas are wonderful! I want to do something similar, but am unable to find any directions. I have a large round mirror that I want to use something that will be transparent. Very simple prject. And suggestions?

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas

    • Crystal
      January 14, 2022

      Are you wanting to create a winter scene or something that could last all year long? For a round mirror, you could still do a winter scene, but perhaps shrink it down so that you see the section where the horizon meets the sky with the trees illuminated in front of the moon. You could make the moon smaller, it does not need to be so big and just have the birch tree along the right 1/3 or 1/4 of the mirror. I have a completely new idea for a circle mirror with translucent paints that I will try to do early in February, so stay tuned, I think you will love it and it will be something you can keep up all year long. Thanks for inspiring me! Now I am so excited to try it!!!

  • Donna
    October 22, 2022

    Crystal, your creativity never ceases to amaze me! You are so talented and I love that you painted it on a mirror! It’s beautiful! Thanks for sharing on Fabulous Friday!! Blessings, Donna

    • Crystal
      October 29, 2022

      Thanks so much Donna! I love your link party!!!

Halloween at Sweet Valley Acres
How to Paint a Winter Scene