Things to Draw: 40 Winter Drawing Ideas for Your Sketchbooks

By Milan Art Institute on December 15, 2020
Things to Draw: 40 Winter Drawing Ideas for Your Sketchbooks

Photo caption: When you’ve run out of things to draw, a stop by the Christmas market can help. Image by Dar1930 from Pixabay. 

For artists, cool things - literally - happen during the winter months. It’s a time when the light outside changes character, the trees drop their leaves and the whole world takes on the glow of holiday lights. In terms of giving artists ideas for things to draw in their sketchbooks, it’s hard to beat the fresh palette and subject matter that December and the rest of the winter months give artists.

If you’ve been itching to take your sketchbook out and draw, then you’ll love these lists of Christmas- and winter-themed things to draw.

40 Things to Draw in Your Sketchbook in December and Beyond

This section provides you with lists of things you can draw during the winter months. Some of them have to do with Christmas and other seasonal holidays. Some are purely winter themes: These give you ideas to draw after you take down your holiday decorations and start preparing for the new year to come.

Just a note: This list is meant to be evergreen. While you may not have the opportunity to paint the local Christmas market one year, that doesn’t mean you can’t paint it the next year. These lists are only intended to get the ideas flowing.

Things to Draw in December

  1. Christmas lights on your house and around your neighborhood
  2. Christmas and holiday decorations in your city’s downtown area
  3. Holiday lawn decorations
  4. Christmas and holiday-themed window decorations in local stores
  5. The windows of your local bakery, filled with holiday goodies
  6. The windows of the local candy store
  7. Ice skaters at the local outdoor rink
  8. Christmas carolers that sing around your neighborhood
  9. Holiday-themed porch decorations
  10. Scenes around the Christmas markets in your town
  11. Holiday candles in windows
  12. Ornaments on outdoor trees
  13. People sitting on park benches with their holiday-themed coffee cups
  14. Snow angels that your kids make in the backyard
  15. People decorating their homes and lawns for the holidays
  16. The Salvation Army holiday bell ringers
  17. Reindeer
  18. Letters to Santa in the mailbox
  19. Mistletoe on the porch
  20. Christmas bells

Video caption: Holiday-themed window decorations make for interesting sketchbook drawings when you’re looking for things to draw. 

Things to Draw in Winter After the Holidays

  1. Your pets playing in the snow
  2. Your kids (or the neighbors’ kids) playing in the snow
  3. Smoke coming from the chimney
  4. Winter bonfires
  5. Frozen lakes
  6. Frozen/ snowy rivers
  7. Your local streetlight at dusk as the snow is falling
  8. Snow-covered cars
  9. Snowmen
  10. People building a snowman 
  11. Someone shoveling the sidewalk
  12. The local snow plow cleaning the streets
  13. Snow owls
  14. Foxes in the snow
  15. Deer in the snow
  16. The buds on the trees in late winter/ early spring
  17. Mittens or scarves dropped in the snow
  18. Snow-covered chimney
  19. Icicles
  20. Snowfall

Winter Drawing Ideas: Why Sketch the Winter?

If you’re a big fan of drawing and painting in your sketchbook, then you’ll want to take advantage of these seasonal changes. Sketching and painting winter scenes from life teach you about the changes in the light and color quality of the great outdoors. These are art lessons that are difficult to get from straight studio work alone.

By keeping a list of things to draw in your sketchbook, you’ll never run out of ideas for paintings. Your success as an artist relies a great deal on this. 

Additionally, as anyone in our Mastery Program can tell you, we’re big advocates of painting and drawing a lot. This practice develops your skills in a number of ways. While it is true that you learn a lot just from putting brush to canvas, something more is going on when you take the time to draw and paint on the regular. You build up an image bank. 

True enough, this image bank gives you ideas for paintings. However, it also teaches you what things are supposed to look like. In this case, when you paint and draw winter scenes, you begin to fill your subconscious mind with images of winter. 

If you draw these things enough, you’ll begin to intuitively understand how the afternoon or evening light falls on the ground in winter as opposed to summer. You begin to understand that the colors of winter sunlight are different than the colors of summer sunlight. 

This means that even when you draw winter scenes from memory, you’ll eventually know what the scene is supposed to look like, even if you don’t have a reference photo handy. 

Finally, we recognize that it may be too cold to go outside and draw in your sketchbook. If that turns out to be the case, then why not try to do some urban sketching in your local coffee shop or local mall? If you really want to capture the winter light, nab a table by the window and start drawing.

If you can’t find a suitable place by a window, there will still be plenty of holiday- and winter-themed things to draw nearby. You win either way!

If you'd like to improve your drawing skills, join the Milan Art Community for professional workshops and an interactive community of artists from all over the world. 

More Ideas to Draw and Paint This Winter…

5 Tips for Holding a Virtual Paint Party This Holiday Season 

5 Fun Christmas Arts and Crafts to Make With Your Family

The Sketchbook Project: How to Get Motivated to Draw Everyday

Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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