snow leopard


Because this month’s theme is forgiveness, and I wanted to paint a winter scene, I thought about painting a polar bear. It seems to me we should be begging the Bears for forgiveness. Instead, I googled “endangered animals snow” and found this arresting image of a snow Leopard. It’s so beautiful, I have to try to paint it.

There is an extensive Wikipedia article that includes notes on physiognomy (small ears, long thick tail), threats, and conservation efforts. There are probably less than 10,000 adult individuals in the world.


  • save the whites, especially around the nose and mouth
  • background is white
  • beta paint tans (Wikipedia says the animal is gray, but that’s not what I see when I look at photos) later note: I am almost done painting and I just discovered the Leopard changes color, becoming more white and gray during the winter. Oh well.
  • paint blacks


Session 1 – painted tans trying to feel my way in to where the eyes and mouth should be. I wish I was better at keeping the paint light. The people and videos do it by painting into a paint tray and adding water. I have trouble doing that, especially with tan because of the paint tray it’s in. The paint tends to bead rather than pool on the plastic surface.

Session 2 – more tan, focusing on the face.

Session 3 – added black. I made some mistakes – brush slipped out of control, resulting in unfortunate marks around one eye and the snow around the tail. I was worried that would ruin everything. I thought I might need to start over. I watched a video on watercolor basics, which was inspiring. When I looked again at the painting, I decided it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Session 4 – “fixed” some things with a breakthrough when I shaded most of the body with a wash of light black. That seemed to make it all come together. Go shop

Session 5 – I added gray to the tip of the “beard,” the teeth, and the muzzle. I added tan to a leg and the tail, then more black to the tail. Same with the top of the head. I added green to the eyes. One more section to go where I will and black to the eyes and darker pink to the mouth in order to make the teeth more obvious.


  • Next time, watch the video before beginning the painting. I still have the longing to paint more loosely.
  • Even though the color is muddy (because of that black wash), I’m happy with this painting. It’s all about the eyes.
  • For me, painting is always forgiveness practice. I have to let go of the perfect image I have in my mind and engage with the one that’s emerging.

Posted on

December 23, 2023

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *