Sketching in Snow, Barn Island

Barn Island, Snowy Day


"Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors.  Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees."  ~Edwin Way Teale

It's taken me a lot of years for this former Floridian to learn how to dress for cold weather.  I first moved to Connecticut about 29 years ago when my children were small.  The Navy has moved us in and out of the state several times since that point.  We ended up settling in the town of Mystic about nine years ago.  Several years ago, a dear friend took me out to go cross-country skiing, and that was it. I was hooked (yet again) on playing outside in the snow.   At 32F Monday morning, it was warmer that it had been all last weekend.  Funny thing, the more miserable or uncomfortable I am due to weather, the quicker my paintings will go.  I went for 'just a walk', but brought sketching materials, and no preconceived notions of how anything might turn out.  I just needed to be outside after a weekend of being cooped up inside with other obligations. 

I've learned over time, that the more uncomfortable I am with the weather outdoors, the smaller and quicker I paint. Monday morning's sketch is  pretty rudimentary, but it says all I need to say for just 'gathering data' for what I may want to do next. Perhaps I'll rework this as a larger watercolor painting (on better paper), OR it may make an interesting oil painting, based on colors, shapes and what my memory holds. 


I did want to try out my new sketchbook, too.  The leather cover is so beautiful, and pliable. It does seem to protect the paper well. But I'm not quite in love with the paper. It's a multi-media paper which I'm usually fine with for sketchbooks, but the sizing or surface quality of the paper was a bit odd. It seemed to resist the watercolor in some areas, yet other spots were just fine. I'll definitely take it out for another go 'round, but again - I like to be able to depend on the quality of my paper's performance. It's crucial.  

For staying warm, wool is king. This little hat keeps me happy down to 32F, and if it's colder or windy, I do like wool lined with polar fleece. The only part of me that really has it rough when I'm out painting in winter weather are my hands.  As long as I'm moving, I'm usually plenty warm enough. But if I'm still (doesn't matter whether I'm sitting or standing), my hands just go cold. These little runner's gloves made by Underarmor are really nice though.  They are the ONLY gloves I can actually wear, and have enough dexterity to hold a paintbrush or pencil.  They have a few strips of strategically placed polar fleece (for runny eyes & noses), and the palms and fingers have these thin 'grippy spots' that enable you to hold things without slipping, and no bulk either.  

The small zippered pouch, is a coin purse from a long-ago handbag. Turns out it was just the right size for the teeny little Holbein watercolor kit I found in San Diego  20 years ago.  I bought it for the novelty of it.  But it's really so small it's barely big enough to cover a post card sized surface...and that's stretching it! But it did force me to keep things small and quick on a day I knew was going to be tough weather-wise (for me anyway).  I do hope you give winter painting a try, even if it's 'uncomfortable', even if you're sketch isn't up to what you usually do, even if....ugh - those two little words keep us from trying so many things.  When we give ourselves permission to venture outside of our comfort zones we open up so many possibilities, so many memorable experiences that bring dividends in the long run.  Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and beautiful winter memories.