I’m a self-taught environmental sand painter & sand artist living in Chandler’s Ford.
Over the past 40 years I have used recycled and found materials to create a series of unique, permanent environmentally friendly craft-works away from my main occupation as an accountant and group financial controller.
Following my retirement, I have been able to devote more of my time to my art.
As a welcome change from number-crunching I was always engaged in craft projects in and around the house. My sandpainting hobby occupied my attention from the early 70s, when I was living in Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight with my young family.
Over the years, I was busy writing articles for craft magazines as well as appearing on local and national T.V. on programmes such as ‘How’ and ‘Pebble Mill at One’ to demonstrate my work.
Research and experimenting with natural coloured sands
I found inspiration as the result of an editorial in the ‘Isle of Wight Mercury’ highlighting the poor quality of souvenirs on offer to visitors to Alum Bay, which led me to research the subject in depth.
I later visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to view their collection of late 18th & 19th c. sand pictures and then undertook field trips around southern England to accumulate a large range of natural coloured sands with which to experiment.
King George III and sandpainting inspiration
Sandpainting as a craft was inspired by King George III, who was a watchmaker in his own right.
The King took an interest in the skills demonstrated by royal functionaries of the day, known as Table Deckers, who decorated the white table-cloths at royal banquets with ornate centre-pieces decorated by using coloured sands and sugars.
Once the King bellowed at one the craftsmen, “Haas! Haas! Why don’t you fix it,” which set the various craftsmen (such as Haas Schweikhardt and Zobel) seeking suitable recipes to produce permanent sand pictures worthy of a King.
The pictures were eagerly purchased by the royal worthies of the day but the sand artists naturally kept their recipes a secret!
But working indoors to avoid unwanted draughts meant in addition to copying published images and photographs I had taken, I also based my subjects on anything else which caught my eye and out of necessity committed to memory.
How I develop my own sandpainting techniques
With no preparatory drawing I use dry coloured sands, mixed with a dry adhesive, perhaps with the addition of powdered charcoal to widen the palette.
The sand is sprinkled through a sieve or ‘drawn’ with a paper funnel onto the area of the picture being worked on, and then blended in – either with a discarded feather ‘brush’ or gently blown into position with a drinking straw before being permanently fixed to a plywood off-cut, which is used as a ‘canvas’.
Having it been allowed to dry, I move on to the next section of the picture.
Any minor adjustments or snags are sorted before the work is given a final coat of varnish, which intensifies the depth of colour but without the disadvantage of surface reflection of varnished works such as oil paintings.
The Iron Lady
I incorporated magnetised iron filings in a First World War impression entitled In Flanders Fields as well as for a portrait of Lady Thatcher, The Iron Lady, and even incorporated marble dust supplied by the cathedral masons in a portrait of my son as a chorister in Winchester Cathedral Choir in the 1980s.
My upcoming open house in Chandler’s Ford
I’ll let you know of my upcoming open house viewing at Studio 28 in Chandler’s Ford.
You can also find my work online by searching for sandpainterpike or at Artfinder for Sandpainter Brian Pike, where my sandpainings are available for immediate purchase.
Here is a short video on my sandpainting demonstration.