The Hibbard Mitten

My Hibbard Mitten (with some recent snowscapes).

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.


  1. Dear Marc,
    following your blog since some years, I am surprised and happy that you came to Nederland for a while to capture the landscape and get a bit of the Dutch feeling.
    Flat land, where rivers, lakes and canals will be found almost everywhere. Open always changing skies and far away horizons. It has been painted countless times. This is a land of painters.
    Being a amateur painter since childhood I am interesting in getting in contact, just to meet or via a course.
    Living on the moment just over the border in Belgium in a countryside cottage south of Tilburg, you are invited some day to paint in the area.

  2. Interesting post as ever. I hope that you’ll upload some of these snowscapes on FB . I always admired great snowscape painters (like Monsted, for instance). I assume one must paint snow on toned ground, otherwise it will be much harder.

  3. Nice paintings! Of course snow is the best! I paint in the snow as often as possible as do the other serious painters in my neighborhood. (New England – Hibbard’s neighborhood)

    Snow boots made for the Iditarod and a wind proof layer over the wool layers makes it possible to paint in any temp. If the sun is out I have to take off my hat and gloves to handle the heat. I’d love to paint snow in the Netherlands…there is so much to paint and so little time.

  4. Thanks for posting this, I’m gonna give it a shot. I’ve been painting all over New England this winter and have been freezing my butt off. Gloves have definitely been too cumbersome to paint with so I have been just working at two hour intervals. I also notice my medium seizes up in the cold so it forces me to work more with turps. Do you run into that problem as well?

  5. I hope we’ll get to see some of those Dutch paintings, Marc!
    For what it’s worth, I also love painting in the snow (not much snow this year, though), and bring a rolled up doormat to stand on- the thick woolly kind. This added layer between my feet and the cold ground does much to keep me comfortable.

  6. Marc, enjoyed the snippets of your recent sketches in the snow. Who knew how beautiful FLAT could be? But more importantly, your reference to Hibbard spurred some late-night research and, once more, your blog has made me look more closely at an artist who is often overlooked outside his home turf. I was particularly please with some of his simpler images: Thanks.

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