Blizzard 2011 Chicago Sketch

Feb 2011 Blizzard in Chicago watercolor and micron pen

I’m alive!
As you may have heard, much of the United States was bombarded by strong storms recently. In my area we received 20.9″ of snow in a 24 hour period. This produced white-out conditions for hours and staying off the roads, if you could, was imperative. 200 poor motorists were trapped on Lake Shore Drive at around 7pm on Feb 1st and could not move. Some were in their cars for 9 hours. Emergency personnel evacuated the motorists leaving their cars behind. The next day, seeing 200 stranded vehicles on Lake Shore Drive on the news was pretty eerie, like Twilight Zone eerie.


I was lucky enough to leave work early and avoid the mess.
During the night as it snowed 3″ per hour with 50 MPH winds we experienced thundersnow! Thundersnow is when you have lightning and thunder in the winter as it is snowing. That is really something else, I’ve only experienced it 3 times in my whole life. Truly awesome.

 The next day we had a snow day, even for the adults too, as many roads were not plowed. It took us 3 hours to shovel because we had many drifts. My arms are sore and feel like noodles.


Here is a nice drift on my neighbor’s windows.


Here is a nice one that buried a car.


Notice this drift next to a 6 foot person. It reaches the elbows!

Call me crazy but I still love snow. I think I’m the only one I know that does right now though. Ha, ha, ha!


  1. Nearly 21 inches, you are snowed in! I am glad you love it. Never heard of thundersnow – sounds pretty interesting. I love to see that you are still sketching the great outdoors even in the aftermath of a blizzard.

  2. Those photos remind me of Niagara, for sure (although I’ve seen deeper snow, unfortunately.) Glad you didn’t get stuck out in it! We’ve been unusually cold here again lately. Starting to piss me off, to be honest. <:\ I just want to get out with my new camera, darnit!

  3. One question that may be silly… I am curious to know how you can paint watercolors in that cold, wouldn’t the water freeze? I’m serious, as in the tropics we don’t have snow. Do you paint from inside the house? Or is it there another trick?

    I think I saw a couple of pics with you painting outdoors in the snow and it’s just killing me.

    1. To tell you the truth, this sketch was made from inside while looking at the photo. There are however tricks to keeping water from freezing; two I know of are placing a few drops of vodka in your water, or using a few drops of glycine in your water….however I think it makes your watercolors take a long time to dry. I never used the latter.
      We did sketch a few weeks ago in the snow and were lucky enough not to need anything, as the temps were mild (30°F) and it wasn’t until after an hour did the water start to freeze on the brush. When you see tiny balls in your paint, that’s what is happening. By then, we were finished.
      Good question!!!!! Thank you!

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