Artist uses snow as canvas for massive geometrical designs

APTOPIX_Snow_Art_41255 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck, left, and a volunteer put the final touches on a geometrical snow drawing on a frozen reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. Beck says he hopes his art makes people more aware of the beauty of the environment. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_62923 In this 2014 photo, provided by Simon Beck Snow Art, is one of Beck's pieces in the snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in southeastern France. Using a compass, snowshoes and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer, the 61-year-old British artist and a handful of volunteers recently tromped across the frozen reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo., a resort town west of Denver, to create a massive, geometrical design on a fresh canvas of snow. (Simon Beck Snow Art via AP)
Snow_Art_58238 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck uses snowshoes to create a massive geometrical design on a reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. The 61-year-old has completed about 330 snow drawings and 120 in sand since he started the art form outside his winter home at a French ski resort in 2004. He says he hopes his drawings bring awareness to the beauty of the environment. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_10832 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck uses snowshoes to create a massive geometrical design on a frozen reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. Using a compass, snowshoes and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer, the 61-year-old snow artist and a handful of volunteers recently spent 12 hours tromping across the frozen reservoir in the resort town west of Denver, to create a spectacular geometrical design on a fresh canvas of snow. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_02337 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck uses snowshoes to create a massive geometrical design on a reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. His drawings are commissioned around the world, he has published a book and has attracted a dedicated fan base. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_60711 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck creates a massive geometrical design on a reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. Beck uses snowshoes, a compass and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer to create snow and sand drawings around the world. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_54900 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck takes a break from creating a large geometrical design on a reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. He and a group of volunteers spent more than a dozen hours on a design that spanned the length of about two soccer fields. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
Snow_Art_50806 In this 2014 photo, provided by Simon Beck Snow Art, a gondola passes one of Beck's pieces in the snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in southeastern France. Using a compass, snowshoes and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer, the 61-year-old British artist and a handful of volunteers recently tromped across the frozen reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo., a resort town west of Denver, to create a massive, geometrical design on a fresh canvas of snow. (Simon Beck Snow Art via AP)
Snow_Art_79157 In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020, British artist Simon Beck rests after completing a large geometrical design on a frozen reservoir near Silverthorne, Colo. The design, which incorporated a series of spirals, spanned the length of about two soccer fields and took more than a dozen hours to complete. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
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SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (AP) — Simon Beck carefully plots his course before shuffling through a windswept snowfield high in the Rocky Mountains.

Using a compass, snowshoes and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer, the 61-year-old British artist and a handful of volunteers recently tromped across a frozen reservoir near the ski resort town of Silverthorne, west of Denver, to create a massive, geometrical design on a fresh canvas of snow.

The result after more than a dozen hours of labor in freezing weather and under an unrelenting sun was a spectacular spiral pattern the length of about two soccer fields.

“I hope it makes people more aware of the snow and the environment and the beauty of it and how we need snow,” Beck said after completing the drawing. “And I think it’s a really beautiful and unique art form.”

Beck finished his day with high fives from his volunteers and congratulations from people who gathered on a nearby hillside to watch his progress.

But it hasn’t always gone this smoothly. It’s never clear how many workers will show up. And if bad weather rolls in, an intricate piece of art can quickly disappear.

“It’s very frustrating when you plod around for hours and hours and hours and then the wind blows it away before you’ve finished it,” he said.

Beck started making fractal drawings in snow in 2004 outside his winter home at France’s Les Arcs ski resort when he trampled out a five-pointed star spanning more than 300 feet (91 meters) “just for a bit of fun.” He didn’t realize how good it looked until he rode a ski lift the next day and saw it from above.

“Snow drawing, which to me seems like a fairly obvious idea, was not something anyone else had ever done as far as I could tell, and I was really surprised by that,” he said.

Beck has completed about 330 snow drawings and 120 in sand, and has set a goal of 1,000 total drawings by the time he’s 80. His drawings are commissioned around the world, he has published a book, and he has attracted a dedicated fan base.

Carolyn Tiller, who has been following Beck’s career for three or four years, watched his progress on the reservoir and delivered him and his crew cookies and spiked cocoa.

The 62-year-old retired gemologist said Beck’s art reminds her of her childhood playing with a Spirograph, the classic toy that makes it easy to create detailed geometric drawings.

“I also really appreciate someone who can make something by one step after another step after another step,” said Tiller, who lives across the street from the reservoir. “They say the greatest journeys start with one step, and that’s a perfect example.”

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