Who knew a meltdown could be so beautiful? Using a palette of melted snow sourced from Utah ski resorts, local artist Lexi Dowdall paints watercolor scenes of the state’s 15 ski areas—often gathering gallons of snow from the slopes to make her wintery creations. Armed with a mason jar of melted snow from a memorable powder day at Alta, Dowdall’s first painting depicted Alta’s Wildcat Ticket Office with High Rustler and Eagles Nest behind. She found herself artistically inspired when the world came to a screeching halt in March 2020.
“I had a lot of energy and momentum with nowhere to channel it, so I started painting,” says Dowdall, adding that March is typically the busiest time of the year for her “real” job in the ski industry as director of freeride for the International Freeskiers’ and Snowboarders’ Association (IFSA). All the work she had done to arrange competitions was suddenly gone, leaving her with a void. “I started taking free courses on YouTube for watercolor painting to keep myself busy,” she says.
Dowdall’s Sonoma-based grandmother, who was a sculptor and painter, taught her some basics for landscapes when she was a kid, and she always wanted to return to it. In fact, her nickname was “Doodle” in high school. “Art is in my nature,” she says, but she lost sight of it as college, career, and other life stuff got in the way. “The pandemic provided me with the time and space to focus on my creative energy.”
Calling her work “Art for Mountain Folk,” prints from original paintings can be purchased for $30 via her online shop Kapowder Ink (kapowder.com), and Dowdall donates a percentage of her proceeds to Protect Our Winter (POW). The artist is also on a mission to create awareness for climate change, and she encourages people to take greater action, from carpooling and using public transit to ski areas, to donating used gear to the Chill Foundation (chill.org), a boardsports program for youth.
“Gathering powder from each mountain made me think about the impacts of snow, and I wanted to figure out how I could get people to care,” she says.
Like so many artists, Dowdall’s work is both beautiful and inspiring, and for sure, her story can motivate us all to find something new and meaningful in our lives even during a pandemic.
Follow Dowdall on Instagram to see more of her art and behind-the-scenes photos of her gathering snow from local ski resorts for #paintbypowder.