This Sand Artist Creates Animal Sculptures So Incredibly Detailed, They Almost Look Real

One of the most admirable traits of a multimedia artist is their ability to use anything as a medium.

Sand proved to be the finest medium for Andoni Bastarrika, a multimedia artist from Spain’s Basque Country, to express his creativity.

Andoni has us all beat with his wonderful sand constructions, while the majority of us feel incredibly pleased of ourselves after creating a sandcastle on the beach.

Sand sculpture is a form of art that involves creating three-dimensional sculptures using sand as the primary medium.

When you view his realistic animal portraits, you’ll be taken aback by how lifelike they are. Bastarrika compacts the sand firmly to produce a background for textures like fur and wrinkles.

Stone powders that color the sand and other materials as needed help him add to the authenticity. The resultant animals seem to be lying on the ground with a view of the ocean in the background.

The artist first tried his hand at sand art in the summer of 2010, when he was at the beach with his two daughters. He made them a sculpture of a little mermaid, and that’s when he discovered his gift: the “fluidity” of his hands. Bastarrika has a deep interest in evoking the spirit of his subjects that then find a connection with the viewer.

“I am fascinated that people can confuse sculptures made simply with sand and water as if they were real,” he says.

“The sculptures that I make have life, they have a soul, it is the same soul that Mother Earth has. My sculptures speak for her and for all the animals that are the most connected to Mother Earth. For this, I focus on the wisdom, strength, and beauty that nature transmits.”

“The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn. In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union.”

“And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”

His creation process starts with piling up moist sand and shaping it as he tries to find the expression that will bring it to life. Once he’s got it, he uses a sharpened stick and a feather to emphasize its expression.

Sometimes, he incorporates other materials such as coal powder, clay powder, stone powder of different colors, ashes, and glass shards to add an element of realism to his work.

Depending on its size, each piece takes him a different amount of time to produce. He took two days to complete the elephant sculpture, for instance, and 12 hours to finish the bison and the horse. The shorter dogs take between six and eight hours.

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