Saturday, February 8, 2020

Review: Isotoner Convertible Mittens (Plus Thoughts on Walking/Creativity)

2/4/20 Sketching in the snow... intrepid? Or insane? You
decide! But either way, gloves are essential!
My walk/sketch fitness program has been going well. I admit, I haven’t been able to push myself out the door during our “atmospheric river” days of deluge, but in temperatures no colder than the mid-30s or in light precipitation, I’ve been getting out about two more days per week than I used to before I started this program for myself. My sketch-as-proverbial-carrot is working.

Essential to the success of my program has been the pair of Isotoner convertible mittens I received as a Christmas gift. Although I’ve tried three pairs of fingerless or convertible gloves of various styles in the past, none has worked for me. They all offered some way to expose the thumb and fingertips as needed, but they are designed for tapping on smartphones or using cameras, not drawing. I found that they didn’t sufficiently expose the critical area between thumb and forefinger where the sketching instrument is held, so I always felt like I was wearing boxing gloves. When I received the Isotoners as a gift from a friend who thought they would be handy for sketching, the failed gloves of my past made me skeptical. But on the first cold day this year, I went looking for my regular gloves, and they were nowhere to be found, so I grabbed the red Isotoners instead.

Isotoner convertible mittens expose just enough of the thumb and forefinger.
To my surprise, they expose exactly enough of my thumb and forefinger that I can hold any pen, pencil or waterbrush as well as I can without gloves. A mitten top and thumb cap flip over the fingertips and thumb for normal wear. Silly loops are supposed to fasten buttons to keep the mitten top and thumb cap out of the way, but of course, it’s impossible to unfasten tiny buttons while wearing the gloves, so they are useless. However, the unfastened caps do not get in my way while sketching, so I don’t mind that the buttons and loops are useless.

Fingertips and thumb covered.
These have fast become my favorite (and apparently only – I still haven’t found my regular pair) gloves this winter. (I couldn’t find the same style at online retailers, so unfortunately, it has probably been discontinued.)

Incidentally, an interesting and unexpected outcome of my walk/sketch program is that whenever I sketch after I’ve walked for a while, I find that it’s somehow easier to draw – it feels like my brain, hand and eye are more closely connected. A recent The New Yorker magazine article seems to confirm this connection. “When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain.” The article was about writing, but I would extend it to other forms of creativity, including drawing.

Technical note: It was snowing lightly when I made this sketch. The Uni Pin brush pen I started with gave out when the tip got wet. But a soft graphite pencil saved the day! I’ve never known a pencil to fail me.

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