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Andres Amador is a San Francisco-based artist who has been working on the beach since 2004. His artworks never last long – within minutes of finishing a piece, and often while still in progress, the returning tide begins to transform his canvas. This is a chance to reflect upon the nature of impermanence, reminding us that the act of joyous creation is its own reward. His work is something that he cannot live without. ‘I couldn’t see myself not exploring the world around me and engaging with it with inquisitiveness and wonder. My art was born from that approach to life,’ he says. ‘While I feel confident that I could be doing this art form for the rest of my life and always have more to explore, I don’t feel bound to the work on beaches alone. But it’s being able to express my explorations – that’s something that makes my soul sing.’

How do you begin your creations? Is it always the same process?

Each artwork has its own path and requires its own approach. When I don’t feel rushed by the pressure of the incoming tide, I usually begin with a few deep chi gong breaths and give thanks to the beach for being available and welcoming. It feels important to me not just to slow down and get centered, but to acknowledge the location – not to take it for granted.

What emotions does the creation of your work inspire in you?

It’s interesting how simply being at the beach can be restorative, even a beach in a major city such as San Francisco. Once I’m near the water, the sounds of the city wash away and I work in silence. With bare feet in the sand, breathing fresh ocean air, the mind is cleared and all outside cares dissolve. Once I’m in motion, I’m highly focused. From my own perspective, in order to keep everything working together on such a large scale, I must be keenly aware of all that is happening and always be able to imagine the larger picture. Finishing a piece after around two hours and seeing it from above is always a happy moment – it gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride.

How does working in silence affect you and the people you are creating with? 

It keeps me present in what I’m doing. It keeps me centered. It is very easy to make mistakes if one is not being fully attentive.

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How do the seasons affect your work? Do you work differently in summer and winter?

I don’t change my approach, but the beach itself often changes. The winter storms wash away beach sand, flattening the beaches, often extending them, and allowing the tide to get quite high up the beach – this means more space to work. My largest creations were done during the winter. Summer generally means the beach builds back up and so high tide doesn’t wet as much of the sand. So I schedule my more ambitious projects for the wintertime. Other than that, since I work mainly in California, the beach is available year round!

What else are you passionate about?

I love studying nature itself – I’m endlessly fascinated by small details that I see every day, all around me. I love to examine cultural and modern art forms. I absolutely love Contact Improvisation dance. I am passionate about good eating and good living, being in places that feed my soul and give me energy. I love to explore new places, especially where the mountains meet the shore or where water runs through steep valleys.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your work?

These days I am dedicating my artworks to something – generally to harmony and fulfillment. It reminds me that everything we do can be an opportunity to send out higher intentions, to work for something beyond whatever is directly in front of us. While it is easy to see a ritual as a specific act, our lives can be seen as one long ritual – full of intention and meaning. Also, rituals can often feel stiff and formal, but I see the act of affirming higher intention as a living act, a celebration of life. Aho! ■

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