I have been painting out in the snow again so thought I would pass on a few tips to keep you warm on your winter plein air painting trips.
The key to staying warm when you are painting in the cold is to dress in layers. Several thin layers will trap more warm air than one thick layer and can be easily adjusted to suit changes in temperature. Start with a synthetic (or silk) base laser with long-sleeves – I use Paramo‘s excellent and seemingly everlasting thermal clothing. Next, a number of thin mid-layers, fleece jumpers etc, and finally a water/wind-proof outer layer.
A lot of heat is lost from your legs, so fleece-lined trousers like those made by Craghoppers and Rohan will really help to keep you warm. Otherwise, get some long-johns. A pair of waterproof over-trousers can be useful too if it is raining or windy, or just as an extra layer on very cold days.
Don’t forget to wear a hat! Mine is fleece lined and waterproof, with a peak to keep the low winter sun out of my eyes. Most importantly it has ear flaps!
I usually wear gloves to paint in winter. I use thin liner-gloves. These are designed to be worn inside mittens or over-gloves but they are warm enough to be worn on their own and thin enough not to interfere with brush handling. If it is very cold I will wear another thin pair over the top.
A thermal neck warmer is a great asset. If your neck gets cold you tend to hunch up your shoulders – making it difficult to paint. Avoid scarves if you don’t want the end to dangle in your paint!
The secret to warm feet in the snow? Make sure your boots really are waterproof. If the damp gets in your feet are going to get cold. I use Muck Boots which are completely waterproof and have a good solid sole. Avoid ordinary wellies, they might be waterproof but they are not designed to keep you warm. If you wear leather walking boots make sure they are regularly treated to maintain their waterproofness. Thermal socks are essential and it’s important to make sure your boots are big enough – you should be able to wiggle your toes even with a thick pair of socks on.
As well as having the right equipment it is also important to make sure you have food and drink with you. A flask with a hot drink can be a life-saver, but don’t forget that even just drinking water will keep you hydrated which in turn will help your circulation and keep you warm.
After an hour and a half working on this picture my feet were just as warm as when I started and if it wasn’t getting dark I would have carried on with another painting.