The Mind-Blowing Sand Paintings of Ilana Yahav

Ilana Yahav is a world-famous Israeli sand animation artist who uses only her hands to create wonderful stories out of simple grains of sand. Her incredible videos have been watched by millions of people around the world.

Ever since she was a child, Ilana knew her destiny was tied to the art world, and she experimented with painting, sculpting other types of plastic art. But growing up on the shores of the Mediterranean, she was fascinated by sand. As a young girl, she would always visit the beach on her way to school, and draw a personal story on the sand. “I would draw quickly, trying to finish it all before the wave would come and wipe everything out,” the Israeli artist remembers. “I was totally spellbound. I would stand and watch until the drawing disappeared, realizing that everything is transient and temporary…” The ability to create a unique story using such a simple and natural medium as an exciting concept, so she decided to turn it into an art form.

“I was always captivated by the ability of hand gestures to express emotions such as anger, compassion, and love… Just as in dance, such movements create emotions that play a major role in the creation,” Ilana says. But there’s more than sand and hand movement to her art. The light coming from beneath the glass canvas and the music that always accompanies her shows also play a major role in making every performance unique, and making audiences so emotional, often teary-eyed.


Seeing her hands move so naturally through the grains of sand, you’d be tempted to think it’s all child’s play to Ilana Yahav, but in reality, every one of her works requires lengthy preparations, starting with the many sketches that she makes in a notebook, and numerous experiments on the sand table itself. Every design undergoes several changes until she settles on the final version.


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