Incredible snowshoe art becomes one man’s obsession (photos)

Think art and the last thing that comes to mind is a pair of snowshoes. Yet for Simon Beck of Southern England, snowshoes are his paintbrushes, and the snowy artwork they produce in concert with his feet tromping down on freshly fallen snow is nothing short of amazing.

The geometric designs he leaves in the snow reminds you of crop circles, but these don’t mysteriously appear one day. No, Beck spends 10 hours on average carving out his masterpieces with his snowshoes. Ten hours, though cold or hurting feet will sometimes leave an artwork unfinished.

His latest work (first two photos) was posted on his Simon Beck’s Snow Art Facebook page over the weekend. Images below are from December.

Most of his artwork takes place on a frozen reservoir at the ski resort of Les Arcs in Savoie, France, where he bought an apartment in 2004 to live in during the ski season. Soon after, he began making designs in the snow for fun. With time, he became quite good at it, as you can see.

“A lot of the inspiration for the snow art comes from the gardens in the temples of Kyoto [Japan], where sand is raked in patterns that are the closest thing I have seen elsewhere to the effect I achieve with snow,” Beck said on Facebook.

So, how does he do it?

First, the orienteering mapmaker draws a design on paper using a protractor and ruler. The perfect canvas is flat land with about nine inches of soft snow. On site, “the setting out” is done using a hand-held orienteering compass, and distances are determined by using a measuring tape or counting his paces. Curves are either judged or created by using a clothesline attached to an anchor at the center.

The artwork lasts until the next heavy snowfall, when he’ll start anew.

“Most of the skiers think I am a bit mad, and it’s a waste of good skiing time,” he said. “I agree, hence the preference for working at night [with a headlamp]. But I hope to spread the message [that] the mountains and snow are beautiful and worth preserving.”

Really, it’s truly amazing what an artist using only snowshoes can produce. One wonders what Leonardo da Vinci might think.

More of his work from last month:

Images courtesy of Simon Beck’s Snow Art Facebook page.