We’ve always known that the sport of snowshoeing is one of the best ways to exercise in the winter, but what we didn’t know until recently is that snowshoeing is also one of the best ways to create art.
Snowshoe artist Simon Beck has turned a winter sport into an artistic endeavor – one that started as a “little fun after skiing one evening.”
Here’s what he has to say when asked “Why?”:
“Back in 2004, I was still taking orienteering seriously and used to train in the forests in the valley or hike up the Aiguille Rouge, the mountain above Arc2000, after the lifts closed in the evening. One day I couldn’t be bothered but wanted a little exercise, so I got the compass I use for surveying orienteering maps and went onto the little snow-covered lake outside the building I live in, plotted 5 points in a pentangle and joined them up to make a star. I then filled in the 15 triangles that resulted and later added some circles, and the result was impressive – especially as there is a nearby chairlift that gives a bird’s-eye view of the lake. When fresh snowfall covered the design I did another more complicated design.”
Since then, Simon has developed this one-time experiment into an art form. In fact, when asked if other artists or art forms inspire him, he says “no, I just make designs that work best.” He is a fan of making mathematical patterns that have different effects when viewed at different times during the day. He also uses nature to his advantage by taking photos of his creations when the sun is at its highest, giving the designs the most contrast.
These designs aren’t freestyle, however. Before heading to the mountains, Simon carefully conceptualizes and sketches out his designs, as pictured below.
Naturally, these pieces take a lot of hard work. Simon says an 11-hour day on the job is as tiring as an 11-hour day walking in the mountains. And, in order to be successful at this kind of art, you must have these skills: “orienteering, physical stamina (if that counts as a skill), accurate use of a compass and distance measurement by pace counting.”
A true outdoorsman, Simon Beck shows us another way to go the extra mile outside. Have you ever snowshoed? If not, try one of L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools snowshoeing courses.
There’s still time to squeeze in this winter exercise. Would you ever try to make snow art or is a snow angel good enough for you?