The Hibbard Mitten
When I was ten my family moved from Fiji to Los Angeles. I remember hating L.A. because of how cold I thought it was. To this day I still can’t stand feeling even the slightest bit cold. That said, I also love painting the snow since I grew up without ever seeing it.
Right now I’m painting in the Dutch countryside. We’re in the middle of two weeks of beautiful blue skies with snow everywhere on the ground. It’s also -20°C this morning with the wind chill factor.
For painting in the cold, I find it easy to keep your body warm with thermal underwear and layers, it’s the feet and the hands that are the problem. I use handwarmers in my shoes to keep my toes warm, and stomp down the snow. For my brush-holding hand, I wear a glove, and for my painting hand I use a Hibbard Mitten.
Named after the painter Aldro Hibbard (you can see some of his snowscapes here), the Hibbard mitten is a large knit sock -in my case a folded and sewn-up scarf- you put over your hand and poke the back end of the brush through. That way you can hold the brush directly with your hand rather than through a glove, which I find greatly reduces my dexterity. Painters are supposed to paint with the shoulder and the elbow, but I use my wrist a lot and using a glove makes detailed work difficult. The Hibbard mitten also means you have to hold the paintbrush at the end of the handle as they are meant to be used.
My Hibbard mitten also has a sewn pocket for an extra handwarmer. I find I still need to take the mitten off from time to time for details, but overall it makes painting much more comfortable.
Hibbard supposedly lost a couple of toes to frostbite, so be careful out there if you’re wearing your socks on your hands.