I’ve uploaded a video on my winter gear for plein air painting in snow. I realize it’s a bit late for the season, but now is a good time to buy winter clothes on sale. My apologies for the poor video quality, but it was filmed quickly on my phone after we returned from painting in Vermont last winter.
This is an update from my previous post on painting in extreme cold. The two major improvements I’ve made are switching to yak wool, as it’s warmer than merino, and getting a waterproof down jacket. In the video, I mention my strategy for layering a thin waterproof shell over an insulation layer and I think this strategy is great for a number of reasons, a couple of which I forgot to mention:
You can get better quality gear by purchasing the layers separately.
You can quickly dry the gear out if it gets wet by separating the layers.
You can use the shells in other seasons for painting in rain, and you can use the insulation alone if there is no wind or precipitation.
That said, I think that the jacket is the only place where separating the shell and the insulation is a bad idea as it restricts mobility too much. I was using a Jottnar Fjorm jacket before and when I had to put a shell on it for freezing rain or snow I lost too much dexterity in my arms. I’ve since switched to a waterproof Crux ‘expedition’ jacket and it works much better. I barely feel it when I’m painting, and it’s fantastically warm.
2022 update: Don’t buy Crux. My new one leaks badly in the rain and they don’t reply to emails regarding their warranty.
Here are links to the manufacturers in the video: Overshoes. Cabelas Trans Alaska boots: (I use the Harkila Inuit. They stopped making them, but you can find them on Ebay). Khunu: Yak wool socks and sweater. Kora: Yak wool long underwear. Arc’teryx: Pants and gloves, both insulated layer and shell. Atom is their line of insulation, for the shell I get whatever is lightest. Goosefeet Gear: Down Hibbard mitten. You have to write to him, but he can make anything for you. Mountain Equipment Concordia Fleece (Polartec Thermal Pro is the heavy fleece fabric). Crux: Waterproof down jackets, I have the Magma. Rapha: Deep Winter Collar (balaclava). Millet: Primaloft hat.
My wife and I will be having an exhibition in Château de la Treyne on the Dordogne river, in the Lot region of France this coming July.
All of the small paintings were painted on site last summer, when we had an opening in the lockdowns here in Europe. The larger paintings were painted in the studio this winter, either finished from plein air starts, or enlarged from sketches done in the field.
It’s a stunningly beautiful area, and this is the second summer we have spent painting there. We are normally based near Domme, as we work with the V&A Gallery in Sarlat-la-Canéda, but for this trip we worked much more to the east, to try to paint areas closer to the Chateau.
The castle itself is a spectacular property and we received a very warm welcome from the wonderful owners.
One thing I really love about the Dordogne is how clean the water is. The areas where we were painting were full of water crowfoot, with bees pollinating the flowers that sit just out of the water. And it’s great to see such a large river so teeming with fish and frogs.
Above are all the larger pieces fresh from the studio. Below are all of the smaller, plein air work from the summer. The first group are the ones I used as reference for the studio paintings.
I have an exhibition on at the moment with Plieux Arts in the Gers region of France. The paintings were done last year, and I wrote a blog post at the time about the beauty of the area, including images of the work.
This year, we had to be here for the exhibition opening in July, and then again for a plein air course in early September. Therefore we decided to stay the month in France rather than drive back and forth from Portugal. We rented an apartment in the village of La Sauvetat, at the southern end of the area where we love painting (around Lectoure). These are some of the images from this year’s crop of plein air landscapes of the Gers.
It’s worrying traveling in these times of Covid. Our town in Portugal still hasn’t had any cases, so for us it was concerning to leave the safety of our controlled environment to drive halfway across Europe. So far, so good though. And the French seem to be taking it pretty seriously.
I only had time for one larger plein air piece. The following one was painted over the course of three days:
As I mentioned last time, the Gers is a really stunning area for landscape painting and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a picturesque region for plein air work.
Our little dog Ema passed away today. She was about 15 years old, and probably a mix of miniature pinscher and rat terrier. She was found abandoned in Naples in August of 2009, and brought to Florence for adoption. As a painter’s dog, she had to move around a lot and she seemed to love going somewhere new everyday. Funnily enough, the only place she disliked was my painting studio. At the time I was doing less studio work and more plein air landscapes, so it worked out fine for both of us.
She had a good life, full of travel and adventure. She ate fresh lobster on the docks in Maine, she peed on the golden staircase at the Danieli, and she hunted crabs in the marshes of South Carolina. Despite her small size, she was very brave. She once charged a bear on a beach in Albania, she leapt from the window of my moving Land Rover to chase a stag in the Val d’Orcia, and she drove off a boar one night in Maremma. She ran across beaches and through fields from California to Nova Scotia, from Holland to the Alentejo, and from Normandy to Zagorje. She lived in Naples, Florence, Zagreb, Limburg and Estremoz, and she summered in the Hamptons, on the Dalmatian Coast, or in the south of France.
She was a muse to many and had poems, songs, and a book written about her. As an artist’s dog, she was often painted and sculpted. These are a few of the works I did of her.
She was very loved, and will be greatly missed.
Here are some video clips of her from over the years: