Category Archives: Sand Painting

Ice Sculptures

Ice sculpture photographed by G.Goodwin Jr. and Snark

In a previous blog post we took a close look at the art of making monumental sculptures out of sand. Now let’s take a look at another natural material used to make art: ice!

Solid ice provides a compelling substance for sculptors. The ensuing artwork is ephemeral, because the ice will inevitably melt. Ice sculptors are always aware of the fleeting nature of their artwork, but at least their ice sculptures can always live on in photographs.

Although some may see ice sculptures as more of a novelty than a fine art, there’s no denying the amount of extreme craftsmanship that goes into creating an ice sculpture. There are even schools and classes that teach the art of ice sculpting, where artists can learn how to use chainsaws, hand saws and chisels to create their masterpieces.

To create an ice sculpture that doesn’t break or melt prematurely, a sculptor must become intimately aware of the qualities of ice. The ice must be frozen in just the right away to avoid impurities that may blemish the final appearance of the sculpture. Once the artist starts working, the slightest chisel in the wrong place can ruin hours of work, so careful attention and patience are necessary.

There are many ice festivals held around the world that showcase a dazzling variety of ice sculptures – from ice “castles” that are large enough to walk through, to delicate ice sculptures of mermaids with flowing hair, to modern sports stars and other celebrities. Ice sculptures are also a fun decorative addition to events such as weddings and other ceremonies.

The next time you drink soda or water with ice, just imagine how those floating ice cubes could be transformed into an astonishing work of art!

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The Art of Tibetan Sand Painting

Can you imagine spending several hours, days, or even weeks on a work of art, and then destroying it? The idea of creating something only to wipe it out when you’re finished is illogical and counterproductive to many people in the Western world. But in some cultures, this is a common procedure, and one that serves a deeper purpose than meets the eye.

Sand painting is the perfect example of ephemeral art – that is, art that is meant to be temporary. To create a sand painting, colored sand is poured carefully into predetermined patterns. Sand painting is a common practice amongst many diverse indigenous cultures from around the world, including the Australian Aborigines, the Native Americans, and the Tibetans, as shown above.

Tibetan sand painting is a perfect example of making art that values “process” over “product”. In the Western world, it’s often the opposite – artists labor over paintings for the purpose of selling them for profit. The art, even though it may be a labor of love, is also a “product”. The “process” of making art is treated as a means to an end.

In Tibetan sand painting, the process of creating the intricate sand mandalas is far more important than the final product. Tibetan sand paintings are created by Buddhist monks for ritual purposes related to healing and blessing. As the sand mandalas are painstakingly created, viewers are often allowed to watch and admire the precision of the artists and the beauty of the design.

Destroying the finished sand mandalas contains a ritual purpose as well; it is a lesson on impermanence. Perhaps artists from Western cultures can benefit from some of these ideas by paying closer attention to the process of making art, rather than worrying about how the final product will turn out.

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