I saw a photograph of one of Jim Denevan’s sand drawings and my head changed: every notion about sand and beach and drawing and playing shifted and opened up. I’d never thought about drawing in sand this way. Then I read the story behind his paintings, which I stumbled on on the artist’s website, and realized that this amazing process required no special tools, but a mighty amount of vision and patience, and the where-with-all to do it. Here’s what it said:
“Jim Denevan makes freehand drawings in sand. At low tide on wide beaches Jim searches the shore for a wave tossed stick. After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws– laboring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles. The resulting sand drawing is made entirely freehand w/ no measuring aids whatsoever. From the ground, these drawn environments are experienced as places. Places to explore and be, and to see relation and distance. For a time these tangible specific places exist in the indeterminate environment of ocean shore. From high above the marks are seen as isolated phenomena, much like clouds, rivers or buildings. Soon after Jim’s motions and marks are completed water moves over and through, leaving nothing.”
Denevan is a wonderful artist. And even though you might never make anything like his, you can pick up a stick and make drawings in the sand.
(That’s my plan, for the next trip to the beach.)