Keeping warm while painting plein air in the Canadian winter

  • David Sharpe suggested I start a new topic, that of keeping warm during the Canadian winter while painting plein air. So that's what this is.

    If you have any tips to share about keeping warm while your painting in the winter, please share them here.

    Here's what I've learned from other members of OPAS and my own experiments.

    1. When it gets cold, paint for 20 minutes maximum, then get back to shelter to warm up with a coffee, etc. Do not stay out for one minute longer, even if you're on a role. If a chill sets in, and it will, you are done for the day. You will not be able to shake the chill. (Thanks to Zan for this tip.)
    2. Do as the Group of Seven did and wear wool socks instead of gloves or mitts over your hands. Poke your brush through the tip of your sock (cut a small hole) and handle the brush with your bare hand.
    3. On my non-painting hand, I also wear a glove liner. This is so I can take the sock off and pick up brushes, open paint tubes and do other things that need dexterity without freezing my hand.
    4. Invest in chemical hand warmers. also use them in your boots.
    5. Buy snowmobile boots. These are about the warmest boots you can buy. They're not very good for walking any distance, but your feet will thank you
    6. Wear multiple layers. Use a "wicking" layer next to your skin, with an insulating layer on top of that, followed by a wind-breaking layer on top.
    7. Cut a three foot by three foot piece of thick carpet, bring it with you to paint outs and place it on top of the snow where you intend to stand (sit) and paint. This insulates you from the cold ground and helps keep your feet dry.
    8. If it's really cold, wear a balaclava to keep your face from freezing.

    Do you have any other neat tricks or products you can add to the list?

    And suggesting we all, "Head south for the winter and paint in Florida." doesn't count as a legitimate tactic for surviving plein air in the Canadian winter. :-)



  • John Christie
    John Christie We tell Scouts that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.
    I don't like bulky so I wear layers of polypro, fleece and goretex.  Dark outer layers are great on a sunny day.  My windpants and shell are both black for that reason.  If finge...  more
    November 19, 2012
  • Beverley Richardson
    Beverley Richardson Standing under a tree will help as the tree traps some warmth. I walked along the pond today and there was snow all over the crusted top, yet where the bare willow branches overhung the water, the water was fresh and moving.
    November 29, 2012
  • sharon preen
    sharon preen Zan, I am trying to find your this outside off the opas site? because a search of "all blogs" doesn't reveal your input....but then I am technically challenged!
    January 14, 2013
  • Keith Thirgood
    Keith Thirgood Hi Zan,
    I was about to ask the same question as Sharon. Thanks for sharing your blog address. 
    January 16, 2013