Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Plein Air Painting

Well, I finally did it!  I have been telling everyone that I was going to get out there and do some winter plein air painting, but always something comes up or I chicken out with the cold weather.  This morning I woke up to bright sunshine and long purple cast shadows and I knew I had to go out.  After reading Keith Bond's article about "disconnecting" I grabbed what I needed and went out on what was maybe the coldest day so far this year.  I have been reading Stapleton Kearn's blog and his witty discussions about what to wear when painting in the snow so I had some idea of how to dress.  I wasn't about to sink $200 into the super insulated boots he recommended, but I did have the chemical heat packs which help quite a bit.  I had many many layers and was quite comfortable painting...the only thing that got really cold were my right hand fingertips, even with my warmest gloves.  I ended up switching hands several times and painting left handed to warm up the right hand in my pocket.  I was only able to spend an hour on the 6x8 plein air sketch.

plein air oil sketch

Home, a hot shower, and a cup of tea...I was still thinking about the scene I had painted, so I went to work on a larger version in the comfort of my studio.  I spent about 2 hours on the larger one.

Snowy Creek
11x14 oil

I am very happy with the day's work.  I have been missing that connection with nature that you can only get from direct observation, not from photographs.   Winter painting is not that bad.  You just have to be prepared and maybe paint in shorter sessions.

..and maybe I'll think again about those boots. 


  1. The shadows and light on the snow looks absolutely amazing and you just spent two hours on this? Bravo!Very well done Julie.

  2. You sound like you had an exhilerating experience. A true plein air painter. You may want to invest in those boots, though. You got 2 great paintings that are fresh and loose. Well done!

  3. Thanks Yasha! The larger painting came together rather quickly since I worked a lot of things out in the sketch.

    Thanks Pat! My feet were actually ok with the chemical warmers and 2 pairs of socks inside my boots. I was not standing in the deep snow though, just on the edge of the road.