Sand Art
Sculpture, Architecture, Sand Painting, Drawing.

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Sand Sculpture of a Pack of Baboons.

Sand Art
Meaning, Types, Characteristics, Competitions


What is Sand Art?
Sand Sculpture
Sand Painting
Further Resources

What is Sand Art?

For decades if not centuries, beaches around the world have witnessed countless children demonstrating their skills in the art of building sand castles, in every shape and size. Indeed armed with a bucket and spade, most children can put up a sand castle in no time at all. However, building a sand castle is merely one type of beach art: there are several others, including sand brushing, sand sculpture, sand architecture and sand painting. Most of these types of art involve modelling the sand into a form of relief sculpture, or even a freestanding statue, by removing sand from the emerging artwork. Sand painting is different, in that the sand painter typically creates the artwork by adding sand. Sand architecture is probably the most demanding of resources, as some sand buildings use as much as one ton of sand in their construction. This whole new genre of visual art is, like body painting or graffiti, gaining in popularity around the world as people try new methods of self-expression. Annual competitions are held in South Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, Scheveningen (Holland), Weston-super-Mare (UK), Pera (Portuguese Algarve), and Goa, to name but a few venues. One might say that sand art - like body painting, or ice art - has become the new postmodernist art of the 21st century. See also: Art Glossary of Terms.


Might not the grains of sand, silt and clay, along with the pebbles used in sand art be deemed "found objects"?

Sand Architecture

Although this includes child-size sand castles, it also encompasses far larger and more complex types of architectural design, such as cathedrals, scale-models of famous buildings or skyscrapers, canals, tunnels and bridges. As in sand sculpture, these architectural structures may be reinforced, internally, with pieces of wood or other material. See also: Architecture History.

Sand Brushing

As the name suggests, sand brushing is the practice of creating relief shapes by brushing away the surface grains. It is commonly practiced where the sand is especially fine or dry, or in situations where dryness is important, such as street performances. Animal and human shapes are popular in this genre.

Sand Sculpture

Sand sculptors can produce a huge range of reliefs or statues. Much depends on the content and consistency of the sand used. The more silt and clay that the sand contains, the easier it is to create shapes that don't collapse. This sand is essential for statues and high reliefs. All types of tools and materials are used in this type of sculpture, and shapes may even be reinforced with internal struts or supports. Annual sand sculpting competitions are held in Frankston, Australia; Bogor, West Java; Antalya, Turkey; and Lake Constance, Switzerland, and other venues. See also: Plastic Art.

Sand Painting

Painting with sand is an ancient art practiced by shamans and healers in various countries around the world. The pictures are supposed to attract spirits: the more accurate a picture, the greater its effectiveness as a sacred tool. Aborigines in Australia made sand painting a feature of aboriginal art, while Navajo Indians in New Mexico have practiced it as a form of tribal art for centuries. (It is reported that the famous "drip-painter" Jackson Pollock got his idea of "action painting" from watching Navajo sand painters drip grains of sand onto their pictures.) Colours used in Navajo sand painting come from naturally coloured sand, yellow ochre, red sandstone, charcoal (black), crushed gypsum (white), and a mixture of charcoal and gypsum (blue). Other colour pigments include flower pollen, corn meal, or powdered roots and bark. Compare colouring materials used in prehistoric cave painting. Tibetan sand painting - known as dul-tson-kyil-khor (mandala of colored powders) - involves pouring coloured sand from traditional metal funnels called chak-pur.

Sand Drawing

Drawing in sand is a major tradition of Oceanic art practiced, in particular, in Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), in the South Pacific. It is usually done in sand or volcanic ash. Artists use a single finger to create a single continuous, meandering line, producing a graceful composition of abstract art. Sand drawing has been used for centuries to record spiritual or religious rituals, mythological stories, and songs, as well as details of local history, kinship systems, farming techniques, arts and crafts, and dance movements. It is officially recognised by UNESCO as a 'Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'.

Further Resources

- Art Evaluation
- How to Appreciate Paintings
- How to Appreciate Sculpture
- How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture

• For more about the meaning of art terms, see: Homepage.

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