Banff National Park's Winter Canvas
A mathematical genius inspired by landscape: The man behind the drawings
“This is how God intended mountains to be.” – Simon Beck, February 2015 - Banff National Park
The world’s most renowned Snow Artist, Simon Beck combines geometrical and orienteering brilliance, physical endurance and pure creativity to craft stunning large scale art installations using snowy mountain landscapes as his canvas and nothing more than a compass and a pair of snowshoes as his brushes. A Brit who graduated in Engineering from Oxford University, Simon Beck left his office job to become a cartographer, but in December 2004 he was inspired to draw a star on a small frozen lake after a day of skiing – and Snow Art was born. Today Simon resides in the French Alps and travels the world in search of new landscapes for this fascinating art form. His February 2015 trip to Banff National Park was the first time his work has been created in North America.
A truly unique artist with a quick wit, a mathematical brain and the athleticism to walk for up to 30 kilometres for just one creation, his passion for his work is never more clear than the days he is drawing, out in the field for up to 10 hours at a time, pushing himself to his limits for his art.
How he does it:
Beck starts his artistic process with careful selection of his location – a flat surface such as a frozen lake or snowfield within a ski hill is ideal, with a new fall of fresh snow. He then plans out his chosen design on graph paper.
Once in the field, he surveys the site and judges where the core points of the design should be, and starting at one of those points, walks to the centre of the design.
From that central point, he calculates the distance to the core design points, walking back out to each of them, counting the number of steps he needs to take.
He composes the drawing using a series of lines, arcs and curves, using his compass to determine the exact angle of each one.
Finally he completes his design using intricate snowshoe steps as shading tools.
Click here to learn how you can plan your own Banff snowshoe adventure.
Banff Lake Louise Tourism partnered with Toque & Canoe to bring Simon Beck to Banff National Park to create his first drawings in North America. For more insight into Simon’s artistic process, check out this beautiful photo essay courtesy of Editor Kim Gray & renowned photojournalist George Webber.