The temperatures have already dipped below zero in some parts of the country, and many plein air artists are delving back into the studio. But for those who brave the cold and soldier on, Marc Dalessio reminds us how Aldro T. Hibbard kept his technique strong and his hands warm in winter.
Hibbard (1886-1972), the Massachusetts painter who helped Rockport, Massachusetts, become known as an artist’s haven, was famously oblivious to cold weather in his pursuit of plein air painting. He hitched rides with hardy loggers to go on location, or pulled a sled packed with his gear on his own in forays out into the winter landscape.
Hibbard with his sock-mitten. Photo collection of Rockport Art Association
He had to be outfitted properly for the cold. So how did Hibbard protect his painting hand from freezing temperatures, yet maintain his ability to execute pieces unhindered?
“Named after the painter Aldro Hibbard, 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,” explains painter Marc Dalessio on his blog. “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 hand warmer. I find I still need to take the mitten off from time to time for details, but overall it makes painting much more comfortable.”
“The Village, Vermont,” no date, by Aldro T. Hibbard, oil, 26 1/2 x 36 in. Courtesy Pierce Galleries Inc., Nantucket and Hinghan, MA