Thursday, September 10, 2009

Interview with Sabado Magazine, Portugal 2009

Your work is truly a race against the tides. How do you prepare yourself? Do you inform yourself before sand painting about tides or weather conditions?
I study the tides up to half a year in advance. I know how big the difference it will be between high and low tide, which determines how much wet beach I'll have. of course, the beach is always different- the sand is generally higher during the summer, meaning less beach gets wet. or beach may get washed away during the winter storms. so while I may know the tides, I can never go thinking I'll know what to expect.

2. Which material do you use to paint the sand? Is there a special stick to sculpture on it?
I use a regular garden rake. I use a hand rake for fine lines and a larger rake for thicker lines. sometimes i use a stick to make guidelines.

3. Do you always sketch the pattern before doing it on the sand? How?
Always. the most important thing to doing this is to keep it all together- keeping the design feeling connected and cohesive. its important to know what I'll be doing on the beach when the design is so much larger than myself, when i am inside the design. and once you make a mark its really difficult to completely erase it so I have to know in advance what I'll be doing. with the geometric designs its about following what I've already made. with the organic designs its about creating a guideline framework that allows for interpretation and gives flexibility, but is connected throughout the design.

4. How long do you take to do it in a 500*300 square of sand?
I usually give myself about 2 hours for all of the designs. If I have more people helping me I can do something more ambitious. when I am by myself I'll do something less intricate or perhaps smaller. but a whole lot of beach can be connected with very simple methods...

5. Do you always work alone?
sometimes I work alone, but generally I work with others. I invite friends and I have an email list on which I invite the public to join me on certain days. I have had up to 25 people on one design and I intend to have more at some point.

6. Why do you think we are so attracted to these perfect patterns, like you watch in corn crops? They seem to have a special mystique for humans.
I agree. thats where the 'sacred' in 'sacred geometry' comes from- that aspect that we recognize in the designs that feels beyond our ordinary lives, the perfection that underlies the messy reality of ordinary existence. for ancient people, creating the perfect triangle through the intersection of 3 circles was a mystical act- creating something so perfect that it is never found in nature (except at atomic levels). to them it must have been like seeing into the mind of god. god, in the end, was perfection. and so these symbols formed the foundation of perfection that all reality rested upon.

as for the crop circles, they draw upon the geometric foundations of ancient symbols worldwide, which accounts for their feeling strangely familiar, yet alien and foreign at the same time

7. Since you don’t get any money painting the sand, the only way to earn it is by selling postcards of your work? Are you studying or having another job or simply living from your art?
good question, and one i am actively working on. i sell prints of the art, from postcards to large prints. and i am working on getting into galleries. mostly i am creating a business to bring groups of people out do large-scale art together as a form of team-building. this is often with a company that wants to get their teams to work more effectively together a while expanding creativity and having fun.
i also do psychedelic sculptural work for festivals.. i generally decorate several festivals a summer. .
i actually came out to portugal to decorate a festival several years ago and finally i am building a business working with couples using movement as a means to develop communication and connection. so in all i get to work with my body, my mind, and my creativity- i'm having fun :-)

8. You’re young: 26 years old, I assume. Is this want you want to do for the rest of your life or do you have other plans?
 i'm actually 37(!) the article had it wrong...i have no clue what i want to do with the rest of my life (!!) but i'll say i'm having a blast figuring it out, exploring my passions and engaging life. had i approached any of the things i do with the question of 'do i want to do this for the rest of my life?' i might still be doing nothing. exploring just beyond view keeps the process in motion and pretty soon things have developed far beyond what you ever dreamed possible. i imagine the things i am engaged in now will lead to whatever will come next. or perhaps a bolt of lightening will reveal the next path to take.

9. You say in your website that, as a kid, you liked to play with Legos and explore everything. You were very curious. How do you think that led you to your art? And how did you start sand painting? Were you raised in the USA (since your name is very latin)?
i'm very much into tinkering with things, moving and rearranging elements around the geometric art is about playing with shapes and then looking for and highlighting patterns. the organic beach art is about choosing a few compositional rules and sticking with them, seeing what results. i can spend hours upon hours drawing and redrawing and making variations to designs. i may sketch a design many many times, adjusting and changing each time until i close in on the design i'll do. i didn't have a formal art education. i have a degree in environmental science. it was my inquisitive nature that led me to play with my creativity. the constant exploration eventually led to what you see now.
the idea to sand paint came to me when i was on a mystical beach in kuaui, hawaii. i was on vacation and had brought with me books on sacred geometry as well as crop circles. i was playing with designs on paper, but one afternoon while playing on the beach with a stick, the potential suddenly hit me like a download from the sky. out of nowhere i saw that i could make deisigns as large as the beach that could contain them and i couldn't wait to get back to san francisco and the amazingly perfect beach (for my purposes) there. itsperfect becuase it is wide and flat and has an overlook from the hill above from which i can take pictures.

10. You’ve said that you only worked in California beaches. Do you intend to work in other beaches? Where? (by the way, we have great ones in Portugal J)
i would love nothing more (well few things more) than to go to portugal and do my art. i loved the few days i spent there and would be tickled pink to return. my ultimate desire is to compile a book of me traveling the world working in exotic locations creating and sharing my art and incorporating what i learn from my journeys

11. How many designs have you already made in the last 5 years? And do you remember what was your first beach and design? And how many did you do after that?
 i have done over 100 designs so far. the first was on kalulau beach on kuaui, done with a walking stick and my bare hands. the next one was done on ocean beach san francsico and was the real deal- 50 feet across. i was hooked. now, when life allows me, i go out to the beach several times a month, usually during the days around the new moon and the full moon when the high tide is at its highest and the low tide is at its lowest. i love going to the beach and playing in the sand- the art is a bonus!

12. Usually, what’s people reaction, since they have to go up to enjoy the painting? Do they understand it?
 people walking by on the beach usually have no sense of what they are encountering. they may ask what i am doing, or why, what is it for? i don't really know how to answer that one. either you get that its art or you need it explained to you, which is a little silly. i usually say i am playing in the sand. sometimes people get it o their own and they walk around and interact with it even though they have no way of seeing the fullness of the art. sometimes people are completely oblivious and walk right on through without any awareness- that always trips me out.
on the overlook above people can see what is taking place. they usually stop and watch me work, cheering when i have finished
its a metaphor for life- the ones on top have a better perspective from which to see the action, but they are not inside it and so cannot interact with it. the ones inside often can't see the bigger picture. but those who can are able to both appreciate and play with what has emerged from the beach
often people ask if i am sad that the deisign gets washed away, sometimes almost immediately (sometimes while i am still working on it!). i love that 

i don't have to clean up after myself. the beach gets renewed every time, fresh for my next visit.

also, and this has permeated my life, i receive the constant reminder of my own eventual demise. nothing lasts. rather than have the effect of making me feel somber, it actually makes the act of living far richer an experience- every moment in life should be a chance to live it large, to allow life to be a spectacle. my beach art has been showing me what it is to confront mortality and to step forward in the face of certain death. (i say this melodramatically, and yet i feel this intensely- the knowledge of my death brings me to appreciate life at such a richer level than i ever allowed myself to feel before)

13. What’s your favourite design? And where did you do it?
currently my favorite design (and it changes) is the latest one to become a postcard called 'cracks'. it is a totally chaotic and organic design. it was made during one of my workshops in which i invited the public. this i can say- you can never underestimate people's abilities. i had really simple instructions- go away from each other in straight lines. there are straight lines, but a lots of curves as well. i was simulating the nearby rock formations and while we were doing it i was thinking 'oh well, this one isn't going to work out' and i completely let it go. but after reflecting upon the photo i saw the beautiful randomness and yet connectedness. its chaotic but it all works together to feel like something. i could never have done that level of messiness myself- i'm a virgo, i live in my brain. i don't work that way. but i see the beauty and wisdom of accepting imperfection. the imperfect feels alive, warm, vibrant- human. its because life itself is messy, imperfect. we are messy, imperfect. its the imperfection that creates the potential for newness to emerge. perfection always creates perfection, and in that way becomes boring- you can anticipate what will happen. imperfection allows something new to be born, like the genetic mutation. it may be 'wrong' and it simultaneously may be the new salvation. in coming to embrace the imperfect in my art, i see that i am coming to embrace the imperfect in life, and more pertinently, within myself and within others. thats a powerfully releasing and connective realization. i may move towards the perfect, but the real essence of life is engaging the process and allowing things to turn out as they turn out, as messy as that might be.

a further aspect of perfection is that you always know what will emerge. it becomes static, dull, even if visually amazing. the organic always surprises us with unexpected results and new insights. i'm not saying one is better than the other. the perfection of form and the imperfection of life are both intertwined.

14. Do you have a funny story with some of your paintings? Like police trying to know what were you doing on the sand?
well, i had the time i was going to be interviewed by a local news station and i got to the beach early in the morning to find that my exgirlfriend had spent hours beforehand marking up the entire beach. i can laugh now(!). there was another time i was filming a really large design that was exhausting to make. within minutes of us finishing raking, a policeman on motorcycle comes speeding up out of nowhere and does circles on the design, perhaps looking around at what he was inside of (it was enormous). we captured it all on film, actually. i might nt have been laughing had he come even 2 minutes earlier.

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