Beach Art

There’s no reason for kids to stop being creative if you go away on holiday.  Even if you stay at home the (hopefully) long sunny summer days, and extra time that the summer holidays bring, provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with a bit of land art.

Land art is the name given to the practice of creating artwork outdoors using only the natural materials you find around you. For me, land art not only comes from the landscape but also forms part of it, so is never intrusive.  At its best, it is both influenced by and gives something back to its environment in a never-ending virtuous circle.  It is not meant to be permanent, but to weather and degrade, and continually change like the natural environment it is a part of.  It is then, intended to be ephemeral, and this is an important part of its beauty – just how ephemeral will depend upon the materials used.  On a beach, the artwork might be washed away by the next tide, but a piece of artwork constructed out of stones on moorland may last a lot longer.   Part of the attraction of this artform is that you need absolutely no materials or equipment to do it.  It’s cheap and it’s convenient.  You might say that at its simplest we’re talking sandcastles and snowmen – so land art is nothing new, indeed it has been practiced since time immemorial, but it seems that at present there’s a rediscovery and  a growing appreciation of, it’s possibilities and potential.

There are a number of established artists working in this field – perhaps one of the best known is British artist Andy Goldsworthy.  A more recent arrival to the genre is Richard Shilling who along with his partner Julia Brooklyn are encouraging a new generation to experiment with this art form through their inspirational website Land Art for Kids. The website gives guidance on and instructions for how to create land art, and includes a  variety of sample projects suitable for different environments.  Many of these are very simple but surprisingly effective.  It’s an art form suitable for all ages and even the youngest child can participate. At the moment the sample projects on the website are intended for children up to the age of 8, but the aim is to add more sophisticated projects soon for older children and teenagers.  It also lists projects by season – because while it is especially tempting to get out there and create land art on  beautiful summer days, each season brings it’s own challenges, and it’s own materials.  So in the autumn you have all those gorgeous coloured leaves and bright berries, the pinecones and the acorns to use, in the winter you have shards of ice and snow and frosted leaves and twigs.  Each season allows you to create artwork with its own distinctive qualities and beauty.  Because of this richness and variety in terms of both materials and environments there’s no possibility of getting bored!



On the beach you can use pebbles and shells, seaweed and seaglass, driftwood and grasses, and of course water – or you can draw in the sand or sculpt the sand itelf.  Larger stones can be used to build with and create sculptures.  The only limit is your imagination, and it means that even on a pebble beach there’s still lots of creative potential.  Your canvas can be the sand, a large rock or even a rockpool.




Meanwhile if you’re looking for more creative activities that you can do at the beach, I can recommend The Beach Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield, which gives lots of suggestions for things to do by lakes, rivers and on the beach. This is part of a whole series of books they have written on outdoor activities for children. Another favourite is ‘The Stick Book’, which has loads of things you can make or do with a stick, since my boys never tire of collecting them!

Photos courtesy of:


Richard Shilling

Julia Brooklyn

Disclosure: Contains affiliate links.

22 Responses to “Beach Art”
  1. Suzanne says:

    Jude, what a wonderful inspiring post. Thanks for the links I will definitely check them out.
    About 21 years ago (ouch), I did a dissertation at college all about Land Art, and I studied many artists including Goldsworthy and Richard Long and I visited Grizedale Forest, where there were lots of examples. I love the fleetingness of some of the work and obviously the materials, and you have just re-newed my interest. Thanks x

  2. Glassprimitif says:

    Brilliant ideas. I love the spiral.

  3. Deer Baby says:

    What a great post. This is bringing a lecture back to me that I went to about Land Art – or Earth Art. The spiral jetty i Great Salt Lake in Utah by Smithson that you can only see at certain times and the guys who wrapped whole buildings and monuments in fabric.

    Love the bit about the shards of ice and snow and frosted leaves and twigs. What a great idea.

  4. Debs says:

    We have always made our own art on the beach wherever we went. Either drawing in the sand and then adding pebbles, sea weed and shells to enhance it or using ‘sandcastle’ sand to mould shapes. My daughter’s favourite was always the mermaid – we moulded her tail, torso and head and then added seaweed for hair and shells for features. At Broadstairs, Kent, there are bright white chalk, flatish pebbles that we used for scales on the tail. I have pictures somewhere – i’ll try and put them onto flickr.
    Alas, my two are older now and not interested anymore – but I’m sure they will be again, sometime.

  5. How lovely. Like all of it – the sand drawings, as well as the ones with stones and shells. Did you see that the V&A is running a “Stones Art at the Beach” project? You can link up with them. There is a link on my site at the bottom:

    Would you like to feature this post in SUmmer Get Crafty? Need to know by Friday!



  6. Kellyi says:

    Your beach art is awesome!!!

    We always make fairy houses on the beach and normally get far too carried away with the tiny details. The ever decreasing mussels is my favourite work.

  7. Jude says:

    I must point out that the artwork isn’t mine, but is that of Julia Brooklyn, and Richard Shilling who set up the ‘Land Art for Kids’ website! I love the mussels too, but then that’s why I chose it.

  8. Jude says:

    They sound wonderful!

  9. Jude says:

    I’ve never been to Grizedale – it’s one of those places I’d love to visit, but have never got round to – must make the effort!

  10. Jude says:

    I love the idea of winter land art too – makes a bit of a change to snowmen!

  11. Parklover says:

    This post is really inspiring and the photos are amazing, so I’ll definitely check out the website you’ve linked to. I’m off to North Wales for a few days next week, so we’ll have to give the land art a go. My daughter will love it.

  12. I can’t wait to show this to my girls AND make our own art! We often build/carve sand animals – but don’t normally make this kind of art. Reminds me of Robert Smithson “Spiral Jetty” in the Great Salt Lake – obviously on a much smaller scale! -kg

  13. Ashlie says:

    The images are wonderful and it is fantastic form of art. This inspires in such purity without intrusion or offense. I appreciate the natural flow and symmetry created by using natural materials within its own environment adds dimension and an intangible quality.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. How lovely. Like all of it – the sand drawings, as well as the ones with stones and shells. Did you see that the V&A is running a “Stones Art at the Beach” project? You can link up with them. There is a link on my site at the bottom:

    Would you like to feature this post in Summer Get Crafty? Need to know by Friday!



  15. Hi there.. I am a newbie to blogging world and I been doing some browsing to get some ideas. Your wordpress blog definitely has given me some inspiration. Thanks a lot for that!.. and not to mention I’vebookmarked your Artful Adventures » Blog Archive » Beach Art .

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Debbie Webber, Jude. Jude said: Anyone for a spot of beach art? […]

  2. […] to my post, I hastened to add – she is a wonderfully creative person!). So take a look at her fabulous article on Land Art involving kids. And when you are at the beach this summer, DO HAVE A GO! We are going with Red Ted […]

  3. […] was really inspired by a lovely post on Artful Adventures profiling Beach Art as seen on the Land Art for Kids website. I went to  the Lleyn Peninsula In […]