Checklist: What to bring when you are sketching in cold weather

Checklist for Sketching in the cold, and my sketches from Grand Canyon

The checklist here was suggested by Sue Pownall (a Facebook friend) who saw another checklist I did of Tony Chua as the character sketching in hot weather conditions.

During my 3-year stint in America, I have the opportunity to sketch and draw in cold weather, during Fall and Winter. When I was up in Grand Canyon, I tried drawing the beautiful landscape. Though warmly clothed in jacket, I did not have my warm hat and gloves, so within 10 minutes I was freezing and shivering. I have to get to the nearest cafe to warm up by the fireplace, which was huge. I have never seen anything like this in my life before. I have no idea the amount of log needed to create a fire this big too. But sitting by it felt so good. Before long, I refused to go out of the cafe into the cold again. Missus suggested we buy a pair of gloves and a warm hat. I settled just for a pair of gloves thinking that I could survive without the hat. And I did, just barely though. My ears felt like they were falling off, and I got a headache from the cold wind blowing on my head. That was my worst experience sketching in the cold in winter, in strong cold icy winds.

 Here's the sketch I did on Christmas Day up on Grand Canyon. Yes it was on Christmas Day!! I remembered the experience but I only realised that this was done on Christmas when I took it out to scan for the blog. Its really to good to look back sometimes. It was 2007!


I remembered using a Faber Castell PITT marker 0.8mm to draw this. I was glad this sketch took slightly less that 10 minutes, any longer I would have suffered from hypothermia. The original intention was to do something more elaborate and details of the cliff walls, like how Moebius would have done for his book Blueberry. Now, looking back, I was glad the lack of time allowed me to capture an essence of what I saw. I could still see the colours in my head even now. The fading violets in the distance and the mix of browns and blues in the foreground. Magnificent sight!

It has been 10 years since. I am thinking of going back to America to see the wonders again, but not unless I have longer time to be there.

The sketchbook I used was a "Handbook" Travelogue by Global Art Materials. I did not know the significance of it until when I was back in Singapore. It is not available in Singapore! I could only get it from Amazon or from another trip to UK several years later.

Anyway, while I was warming up in the cafe on Grand Canyon, I did a sketch beside the fireplace. Thank God a cafe was opened on Christmas Day. Now I began to recall how desperate we were looking for a place to warm up, because our legs were freezing up and the longer we were in the cold, the more difficult it was to walk. I was sorry to put my wife through this ordeal.


Without this sketch, I wouldn't have remembered the cafe was known as the "Hermit's Rest". See how important a drawing can be to help us remember things. At that time we didn't have a smart phone so archiving photos and viewing them was quite a hassle. My computer broke down too so some pictures were actually lost. Fortunately I have sketches.

Sketching in the cold is no joke.

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