Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little more about winter painting

I am rather proud to present you with this. It is an image of Aldro Hibbard from the late 1930's taken from the Rockport Art Association ten year book from the year 1940. He does not have the strut across his Gloucester easel and has a weight hung from the center of the easel.
For those of you in far away countries or warmer climes, wondering whats with all of this Aldro Hibbard stuff? He is my hero and an absolutely fabulous snow painter who lived into the 1970's. All of us snow painters in New England model ourselves on Aldro, Emile Gruppe and Willard Metcalf.

Beside him is a pair of snowshoes and behind him is his sled for hauling his equipment into the woods. Judging from the picture on the easel he was in Vermont.

I want to write just a little more about winter painting clothes. We have covered boots and gloves.You will also need a good pair of long underwear, I use the polar weight from Cabelas, and a flannel or turtleneck cotton shirt. On top of that you will need a pair of insulated nylon snow pants, the sort sold for snowboarders, skiers or snowmobilers. I wear a fleece top and then an insulated Parka. Mine is a very inexpensive synthetic unit but it is large and looks like Arctic gear. The highway crew outfits made by Carhartt are OK and the down Trans Alaska parkas from Cabelas are the absolute best. You probably already have a winter parka that will do if you live in the North. If you have good boots the rest of the equipment is negotiable. If your boots aren't good, nothing else you wear will help. The boots are like the foundation of a house. I don't wear special socks but I have those arctic boots, if you don't, you may need layers of wool socks. Sometimes painters bring a piece of carpeting, cardboard or plywood to stand on, it will insulate you a little from the cold ground. A thermos full of coffee freezes more slowly than a can of soda, but I prefer my MOXIE.

There is an old saying ,"If your feet are cold, put on a hat". Most heat loss is out of there top of your head, so have a good hat and probably a stocking cap over that if it is real cold. Polyester fleece is a wonder product and fur is even better. It is always good to bring all of your winter gear in the car, if it suddenly gets colder, you can return to the car and get more clothing, if you are working far from your car, you may want to bring a little extra gear, too much is better than not enough.

I am sure you know, but I should say for safety's sake, save the alcohol for when you get home at the end of the day. Alcohol will make you colder, not warmer and leads to accidents in the woods. Leave it home.

I carry my camera and little music machine-ipod outside and they all seem pretty unaffected by the cold. I mentioned before but you should have a book of matches because you never know. A butane lighter becomes unreliable in the cold. Cell phones are nice these days and if you did have a problem like your car not starting, you might be very happy to have one.

I plan on doing another reader critique. If you want to be a part of that e-mail me a reasonably sized image of a painting at put the word critique in the subject line please. I will gather those for a week or so. I am going to limit submissions to landscapes as I feel most comfortable critiquing those online. Portraits, etc, it is best to critique with the model present. I remove signatures from the art I crit and I will not disclose whose art it is that I select.

Also I am going to write an "Ask Stape post for the Fine Arts Views site and I could use some questions. If you have art questions for me please e-mail those in and I will direct you to that post when it happens. Thanks.


willek said...

Now this is a terrific picture. You can see his pacs, His snowshoes ( I really like that), his fold up pallette,and the terrific, not an American Flyer, sled. The day has warmed and he does not have a heavy duty parker on. That might be it on the sled. or it might be a tarp to keep blowing snow off his stuff. Great stance at the easel. What is on the ground under his easel? Odd thing is his nose. It looks so different from the nose in the first photo. Terrific post, Stape.

Unknown said...

This is great stuff.. I love this photo. Now THAT's plein air painting!
I should remark that I need almost all of this gear in my studio, as it is in the unheated attic space of my old barn. My husband thinks I'm crazy - but the room has one high north window for good light, and I just remind him that the treadmill is also in the barn. Which is dumber, painting in the cold, or running on a treadmill (presumably because the weather is too bad outside to run) in the unheated barn? Hmmm...
And my palette stays fresh.. almost like it was in the freezer overnight!
thanks for the great info, Stape!

Gregory Becker said...

Thanks for all of the outdoor painting info. All of it is good advice.

DBP said...

Hi Stape,
I lived in the Hibbard house in 1980 before it was sold, thanks to Jackie his widow. It was great to hear her tell stories of Vermont and her life with Aldro and look through all his work anytime I wanted to. He was a legend and one of the best snow painters ever.It was the last thing I did on Cape Ann before moving north in 1981.

jeff said...

That's a great photo.
His palette is interesting and is huge.

If you need snow shoes there so many light weight one out there now, in Aldo's day they were all made of wood and sinew.

Aline said...

I've always heard that you shouldn't wear cotton in any situation where you are concerned about keeping warm. Does that only apply if the cotton is next to the skin?

bobm said...

Aline,it is advisable to limit cotton during the winter due to the fact it retains moisture.Wool is much better at wicking moisture from your body. I use Cabela's polar-tec long under wear and put wool pants and shirt over that thean put apolarfleece liner on then a hhode thinsulate jacket over that and paint away! I have icefished and painted in the winter for years and hardly ever get cold.I agree keep your feet hands and head warm and you can last for a long time.The wind is the major issue as it makes exposed flesh subject to frostbite. I live in Minnesota so you have to get used to winter as it can last six months here! Bob said...

Hey WilleK,
Hibbard's nose looks different because he is a young man in the second photo and an older gentleman in the first. The cartilage of the nose, at the tip (as well as the ears) do not stop growing as you age.
Have you taken a look at yours? You would think mine couldn't get bigger but it will.

Thank you Stapleton, Cabela's does make the Inferno boot for women now. That is new.
I'll stick to latex gloves because they fit like a skin. I did use Nitrile when I was making a better living through toxic substances. Too expensive and over-kill for my uses now.

I love wool. If you are not allergic to it, it's great. Silk under the wool is good for wicking moisture and keeping the scratchy wool from getting too itchy.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Aldro had the stance. I believer that those might be brushes in a roll up cloth under easel, but I am guessing. He had a blade like nose. But he was very handsome.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I need one of those treadmills. I have fat living on me!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, look both ways before stepping out in front of the motorcade!

Stapleton Kearns said...

That story might make for an interesting interview for the blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have enough to manage without snowshoes. I just happily stumble through the snow. It makes me excited just thinking about its arrival!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wear cotton in the winter, underwear and I like the LL Bean Chamois cloth shirts too. I think my gear is good enough that I never get cold and it I am hot I open the zipper on the front of my coat and shed heat.If I was in the Himalayas I might need to be more sophisticated, but for what I do it seems to work.

Stapleton Kearns said...

As you probably know I grew up in Minnesota. If you can handle that, New England is easy. It is never as bad here as in the M state!. I can't do wool against my skin, it makes me lugubrious.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Cabelas makes most things for women too. Need a 20 gauge with a short stock?. I think they are a great company. The are also not too high tech and snootty.

willek said...

Marian. I AM a little sensitive about my proboscus. I would never make a comment about a living nose.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Willek, Marian:
Might I suggest a knife fight in a phone booth?
...........Stape said...

Hi Stapleton,
Will is the shot gun guy. I have my wits..they're sharp enough to deal with most wise guys. Will has a perfectly good nose as he knows noses. I am the one with an Italian schnoz.

Roxanne Steed said...

Thanks Marian & all here about the winter gear. I am a Floridian who settled in CT 5 or 6 years ago & it's still kickin' my rear in the winter. I get a little better each year at figuring out how to dress to be outside (at age 50 I'd better crank up the learning curve). Any more suggestions at keeping your hands warm & still functioning well enough to hold a brush or painting knife? Thanks for all the good advice. Stape, I do appreciate your blog here!

Roxanne Steed said...

ah,,,just found the gloves post...thanks!