Artist Spotlight: Nathaniel Alapide, Painter & Sand Artist


Nathaniel Alapide


My Journey

My fascination with creativity started when I was around 9-10 years old. My father brought home an art book that contained the works of Picasso, Monet, Matisse and all the other great painters. It really piqued my interest as a young kid, so I began to research more about them and their works. Then a whole new dimension of imagination opened itself up for me. I started to express myself by drawing and painting, just like the artists that I was studying, and I was hooked!


My Art

I’ve been painting since I was young, but I only got into sand art 2 years ago. I’ve always loved going to the beaches here in Dubai early in the morning, and I would always find myself staring at the contrast between the loose sand and the compacted sand that would always appear after the tide has receded. Then one day I realized that it is possible to use it as a canvas, so I started drawing on it and it felt good!



My Process

The process of creating works on sand is therapeutic. I have 2 ways of creating my sand art: the first one is where I prepare a drawing that will serve as my guide. The second one is where I just go by intuition – this is the method that I enjoy more.


The most common question that people ask me is how I get the symmetry right, especially with the size of the artwork. The way I do it, I imagine myself from the ground slowly going up and sort of growing along with the artwork, while I visualize how it changes. This would be similar to painting, where you have to step back every now and then to look at the bigger picture. My sand murals are not always perfectly symmetrical, but just like in life, I just have to look at it from the right angle, and then it would seem perfect to me.

As for my paintings, I find it hard to start with a clean, blank canvas so what I do is paint a thin layer of paint on it and just play by doing bold strokes – then I can begin with the main theme of the painting.


My Inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere and present every time. You just have to keep yourself open to them. Currently, I am the only one drawing large-scale murals here in Dubai. My art form is different because you can see it outside in public, not inside galleries or hotels or museums. It’s a lot more communal. I make sure to bring extra rakes, so people can get their hands in on the art as well.


I think it’s the ephemeral nature of the sand art that makes it really compelling. Seeing something so beautiful, and then realizing that it will soon be washed away by the tide – there is that feeling of happiness and sadness at the same time. Not a lot of artwork can give you this kind of emotion, and not a lot of artists can produce it – which is why I take it as a huge honor to be employed by Jumeirah Beach Hotel as a full time sand artist and painter. It’s like a dream come true! I am also currently working on 2 exhibitions, which I am really excited about as well.

My Advice to Aspiring Artists

Just keep doing what you’re doing and never stop learning new things. Learn to value the person that your art is helping you to become. That is art’s greatest reward.