Must-see: Man recreates the masterpiece 'Mona Lisa' out of snow in his backyard
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
March 22, 2019, 3:19:55 PM EDT
Whenever a fresh snow falls around the Toronto area, clearing sidewalks and driveways may be seen as a chore for some. But for one creative man, a new snowfall is an opportunity to have fun and indulge his artistic side.
For the past six years, Robert Greenfield, 48, has been carving works of art out of the snow on his backyard ice rink.
His snow drawings have taken many forms, from Charles Schulz’s famous cartoon character Snoopy to the "Mona Lisa" to a tribute this favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Greenfield, who hails from Chicago, and works as an in-house consultant for employment policies for a major bank in Toronto, became inspired to create these elaborate snow designs one day after he scrawled a love note in the snow to his wife.
“I just started by drawing a simple 'I heart you' for my wife one day and then it took off from there,” he told AccuWeather in a Skype interview.
Greenfield quickly discovered carving out drawings in the snow was something he enjoyed and could likely get more creative with going forward.
“Just after a snowfall I realized that I could go out and create something and start shoveling, and you realize it’s creating lines and maybe you can draw something with them,” he said.
The 'Frozen Chosen': What’s it like to live, work in the northernmost permanently inhabited place on Earth?
VIDEO: Sheets of ice crash down in Iowa dam causing concern
How are outdoor ice skating rinks kept frozen in warmer climates?
A time-lapse video shot from above showing Greenfield bring to life this winter’s masterpiece, a recreation of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," which has been dubbed the “Snowna Lisa,” has generated some 13,000 views on his YouTube page. But the reach goes far beyond YouTube. Greenfield’s drawings have been featured on BuzzFeed, "Access Hollywood" and the Fox News Channel, as well as numerous international media outlets and local news stations in Canada.
His hockey-inspired illustrations paying homage to the Blackhawks and Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban have been shown on the NHL Network.
Each winter, Greenfield builds a rink, 40 feet by 28 feet in size, in his backyard that his family and their friends use for ice skating. When it comes time to create some new snow art, he typically uses a large and a small shovel, a hockey stick (both sides of the stick come in handy, he notes) and measuring tape. Sometimes he'll even use his feet.
Usually, Greenfield takes about an hour or so to complete his work, but certain creations can take several hours depending on the level of detail and the amount of fine-tuning needed. To watch him work is at once sublime and mystifying. How does he do it and make it look so effortless? It's hard to tell. What's not hard to tell: he has a genuine talent.
Maintaining proper footwork, so as not to leave many footprints, is a key part of the process. If he were to accidentally take a tumble, then the creation would be ruined. That's nearly happened multiple times, he admitted.
"I just try to only step in spots that I've already shoveled or that I know will be shoveled (which is easier said than done!) What you see in the videos shows exactly how I do it -- just by walking back and forth along spots that have already been cleared (or that will be cleared)," he said."
But for the art to come together, the conditions have to be just right as not every snowfall the Toronto region receives is conducive for one of Greenfield's drawings.
“There’s times when [the snow is] either too thin and it doesn’t carve very well," Greenfield explained. "Other times, it’s just too thick and if it’s more than about 4 or 5 inches of snow, you can’t see the design, you can’t see the layout and that also becomes too much work. So the sweet spot is about 2-3 inches,” he added.
Greenfield usually tries to pick designs that fit the season; the Snoopy skating design was a good example of that, he said. He has other ideas up his sleeve, but with winter coming to an end, they will likely have to wait until next year.
Still, he said it’s been fun and even a bit surreal to see his designs receive recognition around the world. One of the weirdest moments for him was seeing one of his videos show up on his local weather app while he was standing in his backyard.
“Most of [the public reaction] has been really positive and a lot of people just seem to enjoy seeing someone having some fun with the snow and I really enjoy hearing that people like it,” Greenfield said.
“I don’t think I can ever top this -- this has been crazy how widespread it’s gone. “
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
These 2 EMTs drove their ambulance into an EF3 tornado and survived -- and they have the video to prove it
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 8:31:35 PM EDT
They're lucky to be alive after driving 'into the heart of the tornado,' which a look at their vehicle after the ordeal confirms.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 1:25:13 PM EDT
Temperatures in Coachella on Friday were in the 90s, and the discovery a homeless man made that day was the difference between life and death, officials say.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 12:02:28 PM EDT
The hottest days of the year will grip much of central and northern India in the coming days, and this heat wave is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 2:06:33 PM EDT
As the excitement builds for the NFL Draft 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee, from Thursday to Saturday, the weather may have other plans for the first round.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 11:37:58 AM EDT
Heavy rainfall caused deadly flooding and turned roadways into raging rivers in parts of eastern South Africa Monday night into Tuesday.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 10:42:38 AM EDT
A new tropical threat in the southern Indian Ocean may bring life-threatening weather to parts of Mozambique and Tanzania later this week.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 2:57:25 PM EDT
While a severe weather outbreak is not expected, heavy, gusty thunderstorms will stretch from the eastern Great Lakes to the central Appalachians and part of the Ohio Valley into Tuesday evening.