Lessons From a Snow Sculptor

by Katie on February 6, 2014


I recently attended a snow sculpting competition. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed. I was in Truckee, California near Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places to unwind, unplug, relax, and rejuvenate. These sculptures were incredible–glorious works of art. Walking among the snow I thought of the sculptors, these artists who–using nothing but hand tools and snow–were able to create masterpieces. These great teachers remind me to:

Find the beauty in all things: These massive snow sculptures started out as mounds of ice. The sculptor had to use their imagination, their creativity and intuition, to see the hidden beauty. To see what was possible in that mound of white snow.

Beauty is always there. Sometimes you just have to look a bit deeper. Shift your perception and change your expectations of how it should be, or should look. There is always abundant opportunity, waiting to be revealed.

Go with the flow: The sculptor is working with a fluid canvas. Literally. He has to be flexible, listen to the cues, and go with the flow. Be willing to take a new path if necessary. Have the courage to course correct, start over, and begin anew.

Honor the moment: These sculptures are made of snow. Frozen water that will eventually go back to where it came from. How amazing that the artist can work so hard to build these magnificent works of art.

And then, just let them melt. Just like that.

There is a surrender there that is really beautiful. They are creating art for the moment. For now. Not worrying about if it lasts forever. It is still worth it. Temporary masterpieces.

Hone your craft: The sculptor is an artist, a true master of their craft. How many hours must it have taken for her to master? She worked, and worked, and practiced, and practiced. Strived. To become the artist she is now.

Patience: How long before the scraping and sculpting actually turned into a recognizable image? Into what the sculptor envisioned? At first it must have seemed so futile, carving and carving away at this white mass. But eventually the persistence paid off, out of this form emerged a beautiful piece of art.

Don’t give up. Your vision will begin to take shape. Sometimes we don’t see our progress while immersed in the nitty-gritty. But we are progressing, day by day, minute by minute. Carving and chipping and smoothing. Until our mound of snow turns into our own work of art that is everything we’ve always wanted.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

rich archbold February 6, 2014 at 11:11 am


This is great! Very inspirational. Well written. Thanks for sharing.



Katie February 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Dad!! xoxo


Kathryn Keown February 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Hi Katie,

Thank you for this lovely, well-written piece.

I am the Founder of Carve and this is exactly how I hoped people would feel when they saw the sculptures.

Thank you for reaffirming that all the hard work was worth it.




Katie February 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Thank you for your message, Kathryn! And thank you for creating such a wonderful event. It really was spectacular, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it.


Jeff shawhan February 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Being a snowsculptor (breck ‘11,12 and 14) and organizer of snow events(Wisconsin state championships 2010 to present). I have never found the words you have to capture our craft! Thank you for sharing your thoughtful vantage piont for all of us to contemplate what we do.

Jeff shawhan


Katie February 8, 2014 at 8:23 am

Thank you Jeff! You all are true artists. And teachers! Thank you for sharing your craft with us.


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