Having grown up in the tropics and then in Southern California, I have always been fascinated by snow. Here in Tuscany winters are also rather gray, so every year I try to get some plein air painting done in the snow. Luckily I’m just a short drive away from some of the most picturesque Alpine scenes in the world.
This week I was offered the use of a Chalet in the small village of Saanen, just outside of Gstaad in Switzerland in exchange for one of the sketches and I jumped at the chance. Gstaad itself isn’t very paintable, but the neighboring villages, Saanen, Gsteig, Lauenen, and Rougemont are all very beautiful.
An old friend, Calyxte Campe, happened to be painting there at the same time (and had already done extensive scouting, conveniently for me), so the two of us painted together for the week.
Painting plein air in the snow can actually be quite comfortable. On the days when it was really cold I tried the ‘Hibbard Mitten’ (thanks Darren!), which is basically a large knit sock on your painting hand which you poke your brush into. This way you can hold the brush with your bare hand inside the sock. It takes some getting used to holding the brush so far back on the handle, but you have much better control than trying to paint with a glove. I also used those little hand-warmer packets under my toes in my shoes.
Here are a few of the sketches.