SE3:EP12 - Lexi Dowdall: Utah Snow in Watercolors


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Utah’s 15 resorts paint a majestic portrait amidst the winter landscape. So what if someone painted them all, with watercolors based in snow melt from each resort. That’s what passionate Utah skier Lexi Dowdall has set out to do with her Paint by Powder Project!

Dowdall is a snow-loving outdoor enthusiast who actively seeks out the Greatest Snow on Earth in every corner of the state. But her skiing career got off to a rocky start. At her first lesson as a little girl, she became frightened of a yeti-like skier with a snow-encrusted beard. So she watched Sleeping Beauty in the lodge at Solitude instead. Not so today as she crushes the powder every chance she can - all with a big smile on her face.

The artist in her came from her grandmother, a sculptor and painter in Sedona. She says today, “Art is in my nature. But I spent a long time ignoring that fact.” Her grandmother focused her art on her surroundings, the towering vermillion monoliths in Sedona. So Lexi looked around herself at the Utah ski resorts she loved and decided to make that her palette.

In 2019, she took a rudimentary watercolor kit along on a rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore. A year later, she used the platform of COVID to start focusing on painting Utah’s ski areas. Looking out to the street one day, she saw her boyfriend’s pickup truck bed filled with fresh Alta snowfall he had trucked down to the valley after a huge snowstorm. And the idea struck her - why not blend her watercolor paints using snowmelt from each resort.

And the Paint by Powder Project was launched!

This episode of Last Chair is a really fun podcast with an exuberant powder-loving artist, Lexi Dowdall. She’ll win your heart with her stories of her continual discovery of the outdoor world around her, and how she’s sharing it with others.

She also personifies the ‘support a cause’ energy that is ingrained in all of us as skiers and snowboarders. And, she’s doing something about it. She is a passionate volunteer with Wasatch Adaptive Sports at Snowbird, and she’s donating proceeds of the Paint by Powder Project to Protect Our Winters.

In her day job, she’s the director of freeride for the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association (IFSA), helping young freeride skiers overseeing event series’.

Here’s a little teaser of the Last Chair episode with Lexi Dowdall.


Lexi, how did skiing get in your blood?

I'm a fourth or fifth generation Utahn. I grew up here. My parents were big skiers. My dad was a ski bum who came here after college and never really left. So my mom always says we never had a choice and being skiers, it was that worked out so well.

What has inspired you growing up in Utah?

I come from a very creative family and we're always doing stuff yet scrapbooking or making terrariums, or we were just crafting all the time. And I may be biased, but I think Utah is the most beautiful state. We have just such an amazing diversity of landscapes and vistas and state parks and national parks. It's hard not to be inspired by the vistas that we're surrounded by out here.

Why watercolors?

It's an enigma. It's very simple, but it's difficult to master. And I would say I'm very much a type A kind of control freak kind of person. So watercolor has helped me to be a lot more open to outcome. You literally have to go with the flow. So that's a neat thing about watercolor is you can have an idea of what you want to accomplish. But in the end, the water and the paint are going to force your destiny and you don't have as much control over it as the acrylic or oil.

And why mountains?

I just knew I wanted to paint mountains - that's where I'm happiest, that's where my soul is alive. So it's funny. I still feel like I don't really know how to paint mountains or snow, but you know, I'm practicing as much as I can, and it's just going to be a work in progress.

And why snow?

Snow is water. I thought I could incorporate snow from each mountain into my watercolor painting, and you know, I'm really working on my technique with painting mountains. I thought, ‘oh, maybe this snow will make the painting a little bit better, and I can channel the energy of the mountain as I paint with its snow.’ So that was kind of how it got started.

When you collect snow in milk jugs at resorts, do people look at you strangely?

I had this very awkward interaction with a Powder Mountain patroller. I tried to explain what I was doing, and he was just very confused. But I will say the fastest response time was Deer Valley. They were on the scene in probably 34 seconds. ‘Ma'am, are you OK? Do you need assistance?’ I was fine. But again, I needed to explain what the heck I'm doing, and it was just all pretty comical.

Like many of us, you’ve also been moved by Protect Our Winters.

Yeah, if we don't start to make some pretty massive changes, we're not going to have a ski industry. The gauntlet of this fact is what kind of spurred me to action because I was just the thought of not being able to ski here in the winter was truly sobering. So I'm just hoping to galvanize folks around here. We need to vote. We need to change the legislation. There are lots of things we can do on an individual level that will help our air quality and contribute, in small ways, to the overconsumption that our society subscribes to. But the most important thing we need to do is change the legislation and vote climate. Protect Our Winters provides a ton of resources about that and ways to get involved and panels and discussions with legislators.

We had a lot of fun with Lexi on Last Chair. Regular listeners will know that we often talk about our sponsor, High West. Lexi took that one step further. And, she also explains the concept of ‘interlodge’ to us and how it can work to a skier’s advantage when you’re stuck up Little Cottonwood for a few days. Tune in to learn more …

Kapowder Ink

Lexi Dowdall’s watercolor paintings offer a unique look at Utah’s 15 ski resorts from the viewpoint of a passionate skier. Her colors bring out the vibrancy of the sport, with snowmelt from each individual resort making its way back onto the canvas of the resorts we all love. You can learn more about Lexi’s Paint by Powder Project, and acquire a print yourself, at her Kapowder Ink website. You’ll have a wonderful and unique look at Utah ski resorts, and you’ll be helping to support Protect Our Winters, a cause important to skiers and snowboarders.

44 episodes